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And one: Paolo Banchero provides offensive spark as Duke men's basketball rides defense to win at Notre Dame

Freshman forward Paolo Banchero scored 21 points in Duke's 57-43 win at Notre Dame.
Freshman forward Paolo Banchero scored 21 points in Duke's 57-43 win at Notre Dame.

After each Duke men's basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. Today, the Blue Zone breaks down Paolo Banchero's output and the rest of the Blue Devils’ big 57-43 win on the road against Notre Dame:

One player: Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero has had a stellar freshman season thus far. His ball-handling skills given his size have often been his source of competitive advantage, which definitely showed against Notre Dame as the freshman shot 10-for-22 from the field with 21 points and nine rebounds. Especially in the second half, the Fighting Irish couldn’t contain Banchero’s quickness and skill as he muscled his way to the hoop. The Seattle native was a bit sloppy at times as he did have five turnovers, but Banchero’s execution at the hoop compensated for it.


The freshman has been one of head coach Mike Krzyzewski's most valuable players given his ability to rack up points and close out games. It’s clear that Banchero isn’t cooling off, which is a good sign for the Blue Devils as big ACC games loom and postseason play approaches.

One word: Defense

The big story of the game was Duke’s defense. The Blue Devils impressively held Notre Dame to just 14 points in the first half—Duke’s fewest points allowed in the first half since 2018. This mostly came from Duke’s 3-point shooting defense as the Fighting Irish finished only 3-of-18 from deep. Notre Dame is known for its ability from beyond the arc, but it’s clear that Krzyzewski sufficiently prepared his squad to combat that. 

Also, the Blue Devils were exceptional at the rim with a whopping 51 rebounds, approximately 12 more than their season average entering Monday's game. Banchero, AJ Griffin and Theo John all accounted for nine boards and Mark Williams accounted for eight. This rebound-fest allowed Duke to keep plays alive and have several second-chance opportunities. The Blue Devils’ defense needs this type of aggressiveness Saturday against North Carolina, which is a very physical team.

One stat: 3-of-19 team 3-point shooting

The Blue Devils have been a relatively good 3-point shooting team this year at 37% efficiency, which is 38th in the country. However, the Blue Devils shot just 15.8% from three against Notre Dame. This seemed to be a random performance given Griffin and Joey Baker’s recent ability to capitalize from beyond the arc. Krzyzewski's squad was able to compensate due to Banchero’s dominance inside, but this type of shooting won’t be enough against better defenses down the road. With a little luck, Trevor Keels’ return from injury will give Duke a boost from deep in the coming games.

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