Rodney Hood scored 27 points, shot the ball well, and was the best player on the floor. Quinn Cook played extremely well at the point guard position and when passing lanes were clogged, he simply created offense for himself, knocking down big shot after big shot.
Despite being in a hostile environment and in a tight game, the Bleu Devils converted 17-of-20 free throws including a rock solid 94.1 percent in the second half (16-of-17)
The early season problems are still problems. Duke got beaten on the board (39-30), and killed in the paint with Notre Dame scoring 28 points more than the Blue Devils in the lane. Duke was able to build a lead in 30 minutes behind stellar perimeter shooting and Notre Dame's subpar free throw shooting (13-of-24). When the Irish adjusted and took away the perimeter - holding Duke to just 4-of-12 after halftime, the Blue Devils were unable to generate other types of offense with any regularity and were often limited to one and done possessions as Notre Dame continually cleaned the glass.
Mixed in was the donut defense that has plagued the team throughout most of the season - passable perimeter pressure mixed in with very little in the middle. Duke continues to lack a player who can or will protect the rim with any certainty. Starting center Josh Hairston logged nine minutes and recorded no rebounds, just two points, and three fouls. His primary backup, Amile Jefferson, did manage nine rebounds and battled on the boards as much as possible, but he was unable to bother or deal with the size and strength of several of the Irish front court players.
The third and final lowlight of the night is probably the most obvious: Duke must have Jabari Parker be Jabari Parker or Duke isn't going to beat good teams, much less great teams. On Saturday, in his 14th collegiate game, Jabari Parker was simply average. Hood and Cook did all they could, but for the Blue Devils to reach their potential, Parker needs to be much, much better.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Rodney Hood had averaged just 12.5 points per game over his previous four contests - a solid average, but hardly the all-ACC performance(s) Duke needs from both he and Parker to be at its best. Against the Irish, however, Hood was unstoppable for most of the game. He knocked down jumpers from the perimeter and slashed to the basket enough to get to the free throw line six times. While Duke would probably like to see him drive a bit more than he did (he took 10 three pointers), it never seemed as though Hood was forcing his offense from the perimeter in 38 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
Duke was out-scored 44-16 in the paint, and managed just a 2-0 advantage in fast break points. The two numbers tell a story of a game that was played in exactly the style preferred by the Irish. Duke couldn't get out and run, while Notre Dame was able to continually execute in the half court and gouge the nonexistent Duke defense for easy, high percentage baskets over and over. Once the Irish tightened up the perimeter defense, and Duke stopped connecting, it was easy for Brey's team to erase a 10 point deficit.
"It felt different. They outplayed us. No excuse there. They outplayed us. When we needed a stop, we didn't get a stop. We had some balls go in and out, but I can name at least 10 plays where it was a breaking point and we didn't pull it off." - Rodney Hood