The Duke basketball team showed a championship pedigree against Notre Dame.
All teams can win pretty, but the best teams can win ugly, and the Duke basketball team showed its will to win on Monday night against Notre Dame.
It was a long 72 hours for the No. 9 Blue Devils (18-3, 8-2 ACC), but Mike Krzyzewski saw his team put forth a vintage Duke performance on the road against the Fighting Irish with defense and toughness.
Both teams struggled shooting the basketball, making a combined six 3-pointers, but the athleticism and physicality of Duke was the difference in its 57-43 victory.
It was the best defensive performance of the season for the Blue Devils as Notre Dame (14-7, 7-3 ACC) posted the lowest amount of points under head coach Mike Brey and the lowest amount of points at home in the shot clock era.
The Irish were 17-of-61 from the floor (27.9-percent) and 3-of-18 from 3-point range (16.7-percent) as only one player, Paul Atkinson, reached double digits for Notre Dame.
However, Duke’s offense was not much better, making 3-of-19 from the perimeter and only going to the free throw line three times. But the Blue Devils went to their star, Paolo Banchero, when they needed a bucket, and the Irish had no answer for the future Top-3 NBA Draft pick.
Banchero ended the night with 21 points and nine rebounds while freshman AJ Griffin added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Duke also saw the return of Trevor Keels after a three-game absence due to a lower leg injury. He came off the bench to chip in three points, two rebounds, and four assists in 28 minutes on 1-of-8 shooting.
Duke basketball proves it has championship pedigree
Many consider the Blue Devils to be a Final Four candidate, and Duke proved its candidacy as a championship contender on Monday night.
Duke has won games this season in which it didn’t play well, but this outing was different.
Notre Dame does not have the athletes Duke has, but the Irish can shoot the lights out of the gym, and the Blue Devils were able to lock in on the defensive end and not provide any daylight for Notre Dame.
It was a performance that it will surely need again in the NCAA Tournament.
The Blue Devils have won both games in their three-game road trip so far, but the final game of the swoon will be the most difficult as Duke travels down Tobacco Road to face the North Carolina Tar Heels (15-6, 7-3 ACC) on Saturday night (6:00 p.m., ESPN).