Duke basketball set for first road game without best player

Duke basketball guard Jordan Goldwire (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball guard Jordan Goldwire (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

It will be the first time the Duke basketball team travels this season, and it will be shorthanded.

Wednesday night will mark the first time Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke basketball team travel in the 2020-21 season, but it will also mark the first time the Blue Devils are not fully healthy.

Remaining in Durham for the health and safety of its players and coaching, No. 21 Duke (2-2, 0-0) will play its third major-conference opponent of the season but its first ACC game in South Bend, Indiana against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-2, 0-0).

The Blue Devils will also be without five-star freshman Jalen Johnson, who injured his foot and will be out indefinitely, the team announced on Tuesday night.

After a stellar 19-point, 19-rebound debut against Coppin State, Johnson came back to earth and was averaging 11.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

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Notre Dame is coming off its biggest win of the season as head coach Mike Brey challenged his team in the non-conference schedule. The Irish went to Rupp Arena and defeated the struggling Kentucky Wildcats.

Brey saw his team lose a 24-point lead, but a last-second shot by Oliver Sarr was missed at the buzzer, and the Irish prevailed, 64-63.

The Irish are led by guard Prentiss Hubb, who is averaging 21.4 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting from the floor and 41.7 percent from 3-point range.

Nate LaszewskiDane Goodwin, and Cormac Ryan are all averaging double-digits for Notre Dame as the team is shooting a scorching 41.6 percent from deep.

However, the Irish struggled with the fullcourt pressure Kentucky showed in the second half on Saturday afternoon, being outscored 37-16.

Duke basketball has plenty of things to work on entering Wednesday’s battle

Pressure defense would be a good thing to start with for the Blue Devils against Notre Dame, but Duke also has to find a lineup that will work with Johnson out of the lineup.

Freshmen guard Jeremy Roach and DJ Steward must continue to improve and help shoulder the scoring load as Matthew Hurt has paced the Blue Devils all season with 19.0 points per game.

ALSO READ: The main reason Duke is struggling this season

Forwards Jaemyn Brakefield, Joey Baker, and Wendell Moore also have to take the next step this season as the freshman has been more impressive than the two returnees.

A road game in South Bend is never easy, but perhaps the lack of fans will help Duke secure a much-needed victory heading into its holiday break.

Tipoff is at 9:30pm EST (ESPN).

PREDICTION: Duke 78, Notre Dame 67

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