Jan 4, 2014; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Zach Auguste (30) drives to the basket around Duke Blue Devils forward Josh Hairston (15) in the first half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive, Rebounding Woes Doom No. 7 Duke in Loss to Notre Dame, 79-77

Notre Dame 79 – Duke 77

A string of impressive games for the Duke Blue Devils had people legitimately believing they had most of their problems solved.

An ugly, head-scratching loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish should take care of that.

Freshman phenom Jabari Parker turned in his worst effort of the season by a mile, hitting just two of his ten shots and finding himself on the bench in the last few minutes of the Blue Devils’ 79-77 stumble in South Bend, Indiana.

Even worse, many of the problems that plagued Duke over their first nine games returned. The Blue Devils were overwhelmed on the boards, getting out-rebounded 40-29 by a bigger and more aggressive Fighting Irish team. Amile Jefferson would end up being the only one to record more than four rebounds, finishing the contest with nine.

The defense, meanwhile, was lifeless and slow to react to a barrage of cuts from Eric Atkins, who carved his way to a 19-point, 11-assist day. Center Garrick Sherman (14 points, 8 rebounds)–a towering force against the Duke frontcourt–and Pat Connaughton (16 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) also turned in big performances.

The Fighting Irish would finish with a 52.6% (30-57) mark from the field and 50.0% (6-12) from beyond the arc. Their 18 assists also more than doubled the amount put forth by Duke (8).

Duke was led by Rodney Hood‘s 27-point outburst, highlighted by 5-three pointers, and Quinn Cook‘s 22-point performance.

As a team, the Blue Devils shot just 41.4% from the field, well below their season average, and were once again entirely too reliant upon the three-point shot, putting up 28 attempts throughout, hitting twelve of them in the process.

It actually appeared Duke would manage to overcome their issues when they led 60-50 with just 11:39 remaining, but the Fighting Irish raced out to a 20-4 run over the next seven minutes, and the Blue Devils would never manage to regain the lead. Their best chance would come with Notre Dame clinging to a 77-75 lead at the 00:17 mark, but Hood proceeded to dribble into traffic and turn the ball over on a poor pass almost immediately.

Duke (11-3, 0-1) will look to rebound at home against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Tuesday while Notre Dame (10-4, 1-0) will carry their momentum into a home game against North Carolina State.


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