No. 9 Duke men's basketball began its three-game home stand with a statement win against Notre Dame. The Blue Zone is here to break down the game with a Player of the Game:
One player: Mark Mitchell
On a night where the Blue Devils spread the wealth, sophomore forward Mark Mitchell found himself atop the stat sheet. Despite making just four shots and missing four of his nine attempts from the charity stripe in Duke’s 18-point victory against Notre Dame, the Kansas City, Kan., native led the Blue Devils with a 13-point performance. Tack on a double-digit rebounding night — four of which came on the offensive glass — and Mitchell was the clear standout for Duke.
As fellow big man Kyle Filipowski struggled to find his footing, Mitchell was able to be the anchor inside for the Blue Devils. With Filipowski in and out of the game with foul trouble and shooting just 22.2% from the floor, Mitchell sliced to the rim and utilized his 6-foot-9 frame to make his presence felt inside. With just under three minutes left in the contest, the Sunrise Christian product took off in the direction of the basket and received a pass that he emphatically flushed home on top of J.R. Konieczny, putting the exclamation mark on Duke’s dismantling of the Fighting Irish.
One word: Togetherness
Following a disheartening rivalry loss to North Carolina, head coach Jon Scheyer proclaimed, “I wasn’t happy with the way we competed.” Back in the confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium, his team responded decisively. The Blue Devils amassed just eight assists on 35 made shots against the Tar Heels, but the ball moved much smoother for Scheyer’s squad Wednesday night, as 13 of Duke’s 26 makes were assisted with seven different players dropping at least one dime.
With the Blue Devils showing improved fight and jumping out to an early lead, Scheyer and his staff were able to look further down the bench in the victory. Junior guard Jaylen Blakes returned to the court and freshman forward Sean Stewart logged double-digit minutes for the first time since Duke’s Jan. 23 victory against Louisville. Stewart had the highlight of the night, rising up for a block on the defensive end before running the length of the floor and finishing an alley-oop over a Fighting Irish defender. Even freshman guard TJ Power, the tenth man in the Blue Devil rotation, received first-half minutes as Duke performed as a much more cohesive unit in the victory.
One stat: 21-2 second-chance point disparity
The Blue Devils followed their misses and cleaned up on the boards en route to a 19-point differential on second-chance opportunities. With a quick glance at the box score, the two sides may appear relatively even on the offensive glass, as Duke hauled in 16 of its misses to Notre Dame’s 13. However, the Blue Devils were able to suffocate the Fighting Irish rebounders, leading to just one putback for the away team. On the other end, the Blue Devils were much more efficient with their extra opportunities, cashing in 21 points on second possessions.
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