Cold-shooting No. 10 Notre Dame fall to No. 4 Duke 90-60
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Jerian Grant usually makes the tough shots look easy. This time, Notre Dame’s top scorer couldn’t even get the easy shots to fall.
That sent the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish to their worst loss since 1999.
No. 4 Duke routed Notre Dame 90-60 on Saturday after clamping down on Grant and the Irish’s other top scorers.
Grant, Pat Connaughton and Zach Auguste had combined to average 44.5 points. They finished this one with 16 points combined on 6-of-19 shooting.
Steve Vasturia had 15 points but Grant was held to just seven on 3-of-10 shooting for the Fighting Irish (21-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 36 percent in the first half, when this one was decided.
“Their ball pressure harassed us, bothered us and never let Jerian Grant or any of us get into rhythm,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “It was one of those where you’re hanging on for dear life, and in this league, you’ve got to have a short memory.”
Justise Winslow had 19 points and 11 rebounds while fellow freshman Jahlil Okafor added 20 points and 10 rebounds for Duke.
Matt Jones added a career-high 17 points off the bench and Tyus Jones scored 12 for the Blue Devils (20-3, 7-3)
Duke shot 61 percent — 81 percent in the first half — and used an early 43-7 run to avenge its four-point loss to the Fighting Irish last month.
“Everyone,” forward Amile Jefferson said, “was hungry today.”
Notre Dame won the previous meeting 77-73 on Jan. 28. This rematch was all Duke.
Playing before a crowd infused with an energy usually reserved for rival North Carolina, the Blue Devils clamped down on the nation’s most efficient offense and built an insurmountable lead during what coach Mike Krzyzewski called “the best half we’ve played this season.”
“We have not executed that way in a long time on both ends of the court,” Krzyzewski said. “It was almost perfect.”
A comeback-capable Notre Dame team — the Irish rallied from 18 points down to beat North Carolina State on the road two weeks ago — never got closer than 18 in the second half of its worst loss since Villanova beat them 93-62 on Jan. 7, 1999.
They entered averaging a Division I-best 1.2 points per possession, and led the ACC with an 80.8-point scoring average. The Blue Devils held them to two baskets in 11 early minutes and needed about 15½ minutes to build a 30-point lead.
“This is the defense that coach envisioned us playing the whole year, this type of intensity and ... shutting teams down, the athletes we have,” Winslow said. “It just so happened that all eight guys were locked in, and when you have a game like that when everyone’s so focused and into the game, you get something special like that.”
Perhaps most impressively, they did it almost entirely without Okafor. The preseason All-American picked up two fouls in 16 seconds and sat for the final 11:57 of the half.
Duke guards Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook combined for 12 assists and no turnovers. ... Krzyzewski improved to 20-2 against his former assistants. Brey was on Duke’s staff from 1987-95.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“When you go through one like that, I always go through the stat sheet to make sure it only counts as one loss,” Brey said.
Notre Dame: Demetrius Jackson added 11 points for the Fighting Irish.
Duke: The Blue Devils earned their 18th straight 20-win season and their 30th in Krzyzewski’s 35 seasons at the school.
Notre Dame plays at Clemson on Tuesday night.
Duke plays at Florida State on Monday night.
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