More of the same as Notre Dame drops ACC game to Duke

Tom Noie I South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND

The home team competed better and harder and longer than the previous time out on their floor.

It still wasn’t anywhere near good enough for Notre Dame against No. 2 Duke at Purcell Pavilion.

Freshmen RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson sliced through a collection of Irish defenders for plenty of easy buckets to lead the Blue Devils to an 83-61 men’s college basketball victory.

A loss, yes. But a win in one small way for the Irish.

"We just stuck our nose in there and were physical," said coach Mike Brey. "That's what I wanted to see. They knew they didn't do that enough on Saturday. I love how they responded."

Williamson finished with 26 points. Barrett added 17.

"I didn't really care about who they really were," said freshman guard Prentiss Hubb. "We've got to treat everybody the same, no matter who they are. At the end of the day, they're all human and they can be beat."

Not Monday.

It marked the first time under Brey that Notre Dame has lost consecutive games by at least 20 points, something that hadn’t happened since the 1999-2000 season under former Irish coach Matt Doherty.

John Mooney delivered his seventh straight double double and league-leading 13th this season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. After scoring a combined 15 points his previous three games, Hubb had 13.

Notre Dame falls to 11-10, 1-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference with its fifth-straight loss and fifth loss this season at Purcell Pavilion. Duke, which never trailed, never was threatened and led by as many as 24, improves to 18-2, 7-1.

Duke opened by hitting five of its seven shots to open a double-digit lead (12-2) less than five minutes in. The Blue Devils connected on their first two 3-pointers. This after they went a collective 2-for-21 from behind the arc in a home win over Georgia Tech.

Notre Dame had little choice but to open in zone to keep from getting gashed off the dribble. Once the zone was ineffective, the Irish went man and couldn’t keep pace. Hitting one of their first nine shots also didn’t help. By the time Notre Dame made its second basket, Duke had already opened a 17-2 lead.

Game effectively over.

Again.

Notre Dame trailed by at least 19 in the first half at home in an ACC game for the second-straight contest. Monday’s game was nearly 13 minutes old yet the Irish had managed only five baskets — from five different players.

When Barrett connected on a transition jumper with 2:54 remaining in the first half, he and Williamson had combined for 24 points. To that point, Notre Dame had 23. The two freshmen had 27 points in the first half; the Irish managed 28 and trailed by 18.

"I was proud of our guys," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "Notre Dame was ready. We hit them hard to begin with. They played us hard the whole game."

There once was a time, and not long ago, when Notre Dame owned this series. Seems like a long time ago. The Irish won three in a row and five of six between January 2014 and March 2016. Duke has since won the last five.

Monday was the teams’ only regular-season matchup.

Coming off a 27-point loss Saturday to No. 3 Virginia, Notre Dame held a rare Sunday practice in which the Irish went hard, way harder than usual the day before a game. They also returned later in the day for their usual scout session in advance of their first Saturday-Monday league swing.

"We kind of made a pact that from here on out, no matter what happens, we're going to be competing for 40 minutes," said junior guard Nik Djogo. "That's what we did tonight."

The Irish made just one of their first nine shots and finished at 34.8 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from 3.

"We just gotta keep shooting," said Hubb. "They're going to fall our way eventually. Just gotta get better."

Notre Dame again was without junior power forward Juwan Durham. He missed his fourth-straight game and fifth of the last six with what’s become a bone bruise in his left ankle. Durham originally sprained the ankle in the New Year’s Day loss to Virginia Tech.

Durham leads the ACC in blocked shots (3.2).

"We could use that back," Brey said.

Wintry weather that swept through the area for the better half of Monday also had an effect on Monday’s game. PGA pro David Toms was supposed to be at the game to help promote this summer’s Senior PGA Tour event at the Warren Golf Course. His flight was canceled. The evening’s halftime show, Red Panda, also had travel issues and wasn’t able to perform.

That brought a big round boos from the student section at intermission.

Spots were reserved Monday at an auxiliary press table halfway up the arena stands for 18 NBA scouts. Many of those — OK, all of those — braved the weather conditions outside to check out inside what might be as many as four first-round draft picks in June’s draft — all of whom are in Duke’s starting lineup.

"They're just a good team," Hubb said.

Those four draft picks would be one more in one single year than Brey has had in his 19 seasons at Notre Dame.

"I don't know if I've seen individual, gifted talent like that come through our building at multiple spots," Brey said.

Garnering much of the attention from scouts during the game and from fans before was Williamson. Expected to be the top pick in June’s draft, Williamson arrived Monday as the only college player in the country averaging at least 20 points a game and shooting at least 60 percent from the field.

"They are really gifted," Brey said. "I like how we competed."

Notre Dame fans then serenaded Williamson with chants of “overrated” during the game.

Hyped last week for a two-game swing that the program has seldom seen, if ever, with visits from the Nos. 3 and 2 teams in the country in a span of 48 hours, the Irish homestand couldn’t end soon enough late Monday. It was that kind of a forgettable stretch for Notre Dame, which hasn’t won since Jan. 12 at home against Boston College.

Notre Dame visits Boston College on Saturday.

"If we compete like this on Saturday," Djogo said, "it's going to be a good one in our favor."

• No. 2 DUKE 83, NOTRE DAME 61

At Purcell Pavilion

DUKE (18-2): Williamson 10-12 5-9 26, Barrett 7-17 0-0 17, Reddish 4-13 2-2 13, Bolden 4-6 0-1 8, Jones 4-6 0-0 9, DeLaurier 1-1 0-0 2, Robinson 0-0 0-0 0, White 0-1 0-0 0, Vrankovic 0-1 1-2 1, Goldwire 0-0 0-0 0, O’Connell 2-2 1-2 7. Totals 32-59 9-16 83.

NOTRE DAME (11-10): Mooney 4-15 5-6 14, Gibbs 4-15 2-3 12, Hubb 5-13 0-0 13, Harvey 3-8 0-0 6, Goodwin 2-4 0-0 5, Laszewski 2-6 0-0 4, Doherty 0-0 0-0 0, Djogo 3-5 0-0 7. Totals 23-66 7-9 61.

Halftime_Duke 46-28. 3-Point Goals_Duke 10-19 (Barrett 3-6, Reddish 3-8, O’Connell 2-2, Williamson 1-1, Jones 1-2), Notre Dame 8-24 (Hubb 3-7, Gibbs 2-6, Goodwin 1-2, Djogo 1-2, Mooney 1-3, Laszewski 0-1, Harvey 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Duke 39 (Williamson, Barrett 9), Notre Dame 32 (Mooney 11). Assists_Duke 13 (Jones 5), Notre Dame 9 (Hubb 4). Total Fouls_Duke 15, Notre Dame 14.

Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski and TJ Gibbs, top, fight for a loose ball with Duke’s Javin DeLaurier Monday night at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend.
Notre Dame’s John Mooney, right, shoots defended by Duke’s Zion Williamson Monday night at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend.