Previewing Duke v. Notre Dame

The Blue Devils will get their first shot at a familiar opponent on Saturday in Cameron.

Less than two weeks ago, Jerian Grant took over to rally Notre Dame in an exciting home victory against Jahlil Okafor and Duke.

Two of the country's best players meet again in Saturday's rematch, but this time the No. 10 Fighting Irish will have to contend with the Cameron Crazies when they visit the fourth-ranked Blue Devils for another ACC showdown.

Notre Dame (21-3, 9-2) trailed by 10 against Duke (19-3, 6-3) when they met last Wednesday before Grant took over in the waning moments.

Over the final 67 seconds, he hit a jumper, assisted on a 3-pointer -- both coming with the shot clock close to expiring -- and blocked a layup to lift Notre Dame to a 77-73 win.

"He loves the moment," Irish coach Mike Brey said of the senior guard. "He's such a bright lights, big-stage guy. He is really clutch."

Grant finished with an impressive line, shooting 9 for 15 for 23 points to go with 12 assists, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks. His performance didn't exactly overshadow that of Okafor, who had 22 points and 17 boards, but Duke's standout freshman went 2 for 7 at the free-throw line and missed four of five in the final 4:30.

"Jah had a heck of a game," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "If he hit those free throws, then we'd be talking about Jah having the amazing game, not Grant. But Jah had a great game."

Grant (17.3 points per game) and Okafor (18.1) rank fourth and third in scoring among ACC players, while Okafor leads the conference in shooting at 65.2 percent and is third with 9.3 rebounds per game.

The victory gave Brey -- a Duke assistant from 1987-95 -- two straight wins against Krzyzewski, who has won the other 19 times he's faced a protege and bested Brey in 2002.

The Irish also beat the Blue Devils 79-77 last Jan. 4 during a trying first season in the ACC, but they haven't visited raucous Cameron Indoor Stadium since Jan. 26, 1994. They are 0-6 on the Blue Devils' home floor.

They're in second place in the conference after splitting two games since beating Duke, which has won its two ensuing contests but sits in fifth.

After a 76-72 letdown at Pittsburgh last Saturday, the Irish raced to a 25-point lead against Boston College on Wednesday but had to hold on for a 71-63 win.

"It got to 25 so fast, you worry about concentration and focus a little bit," Brey said. "... But I never expect a league game to be easy."

Steve Vasturia scored 17 points -- nearly eight above his average -- but Pat Connaughton finished with 11 after scoring 10 of Notre Dame's first 16 points.

Duke followed its loss in South Bend with a 69-63 win over ACC-leading and previously unbeaten Virginia on Saturday before getting past Georgia Tech 72-66 on Wednesday, giving Krzyzewski a record 423rd win in league play.

Senior Quinn Cook scored all 17 of his points in the second half for the Blue Devils, who appeared spent after their big win in Charlottesville.

"I didn't think we were emotionally at the level we needed to be, no matter what we did," said Krzyzewski, 423-169 in his 35th year in the ACC. "Not that our kids weren't ready to play, but we could not get that level of emotion."

After winning at North Carolina and N.C. State last month, a victory for the Irish will give them the ACC's first Tobacco Road sweep since Georgia Tech did it in 1995-96.

The Devils Den Top Stories