Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Duke vs Notre Dame Preview: Blue Devils hit the road for ACC opener

 

Duke @ Notre Dame – January 4th – 4 PM ET

No. 7 Duke (11-2) heads to Notre Dame on Saturday for what will be the ACC opener for both schools. For the Blue Devils, it will be their first true away game of the season.

The Fighting Irish, who finished non-conference play with a 9-4 mark, are currently in the process of figuring out how to fill the void left by guard Jerian Grant, who was dismissed from the team in late December. Any time a team loses a starter, it is tough to reshuffle, but replacing the production of Grant is close to impossible. The guard was stellar in twelve games, averaging 19.0 points and 6.2 assists while boasting a 27.5 PER.

Dec 3, 2013; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Adam Woodbury (34) defends Notre Dame Fighting Irish center Garrick Sherman (11) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame still has plenty of talent leftover, however. Garrick Sherman is a superb center that could cause problems for Duke in the post, and guards Pat Connaughton and Eric Atkins provide some punch from beyond the arc. Still, they aren’t the same team, and that showed in their first (and only) game without Grant this season, a nail-biting 87-81 overtime win over Canisius on December 29th.

Duke, meanwhile, has gotten back on track after a slow start to the season.

While Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood have been as consistent and efficient as Duke could’ve hoped, the rest of the group have all improved drastically over the last few games. Guard Quinn Cook has taken control of the point guard position–dishing out 34 assists in his last five contests–Andre Dawkins has been set ablaze, shooting 50.8% from beyond the arc on the year, Amile Jefferson has been rebounding the ball at an absurd 20.7%, and Rasheed Sulaimon has returned from a long trip to the doghouse in the form of a potentially strong contributor.

Should Duke handle their first road environment of the season with ease, they shouldn’t have a problem handling the Fighting Irish. This isn’t the same Notre Dame team that nearly knocked off Ohio State a couple weeks ago, but anything goes in conference play, especially when you’re away from home.

 

Offense

Offensive Rating: Duke 121.5 – Notre Dame 116.2

Points Per Game: Duke 85.2 – Notre Dame 80.1

Field Goal Percentage: Duke 50.2 – Notre Dame 47.5

Three Point Percentage: Duke 41.1 – Notre Dame 39.2

Free Throw Percentage: Duke 71.8 – Notre Dame 76.3

Asst-TO Ratio: Duke 1.577 – Notre Dame 1.681

 

Defense

Defensive Rating: Duke 98.1 – Notre Dame 101.8

Opponent PPG: Duke 68.8 – Notre Dame 70.2

Opponent FG%: Duke 43.9 – Notre Dame 43.6

Opponent 3pt%: Duke 27.5 – Notre Dame 37.5

Steals: Duke 94 – Notre Dame 95

 

Top Performers

Duke

Jabari Parker – F – Freshman: 30.8 PER, 21.4 points, 8.0 rebounds

Rodney Hood – F – (Redshirt) Sophomore: 23.1 PER, 17.2 points, 5.0 rebounds

Quinn Cook – G – Junior: 20.0 PER, 13.5 points, 6.3 assists

Notre Dame

Pat Connaughton – G/F – Junior: 20.1 PER, 13.0 points, 7.4 rebounds

Garrick Sherman – C – Senior: 24.4 PER, 14.7 points, 7.5 rebounds

Eric Atkins – G – Senior: 16.4 PER, 13.2 points, 4.5 assists

Tags: Duke Blue Devils

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