Previewing Duke v. Notre Dame

The Blue Devils and Irish will play a third game of the season in the ACC semifinal round on Friday.

Duke senior Quinn Cook has never won the ACC tournament, and that disappointment has been followed with early exits in two of the last three NCAA Tournaments.

That all plays a role in Cook's determination to lead the second-ranked Blue Devils to bigger things before his time at the school is done.

Duke seeks its 13th straight victory and second consecutive appearance in the ACC title game when it faces No. 11 Notre Dame for the third time Friday night.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Cook has been battling an illness lately, but the guard showed no effects in Thursday's 77-53 quarterfinal win over North Carolina State. He hit 5 of 7 from the field and led six Blue Devils in double figures with 15 points.

Not only has Cook left the last three ACC tournaments without a title, he's been a part of Duke teams that have lost to Lehigh in 2012 and Mercer last season in the first game of the NCAAs.

He believes this version of the Blue Devils (29-3) is poised for a deep run.

"(We're) playing with a sense of urgency, especially the older guys who have been here," Cook said. "(In the) postseason we (haven't played) as well as we wanted to, so we get another chance this year for the guys who returned. Our younger guys, they've bought in since Day 1.

"We're playing our best basketball right now, and guys keep wanting to get better. I know we're not satisfied."

Cook also mentioned Duke seems to play its best with a chip on its shoulder, which likely was the case the last time it faced Notre Dame (27-5).

The Blue Devils fell 77-73 on Jan. 28 in South Bend as Jerian Grant finished with 23 points and a career-high 12 assists for the Fighting Irish. Duke made a statement in the second matchup Feb. 7, holding Grant to seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in a 90-60 romp.

Freshman standout Jahlil Okafor had 22 points and 17 rebounds in the first meeting, then finished with 20 and 10 in Durham despite picking up two quick fouls and sitting for roughly the final 12 minutes of the first half.

Okafor may need another big effort in the rubber match with the Irish, who have won six of seven after beating Miami 70-63 on Thursday. Notre Dame led by 20, but it went nearly the first 12 minutes of the second half without a field goal and blew the lead.

Steve Vasturia scored 16 and hit a 3-pointer with 6:13 remaining to put the Irish ahead for good. Grant went 3 of 8 and finished with 13 points.

Coach Mike Brey noted that his squad struggled against Miami's zone defense and realizes Notre Dame needs to be much better against Duke, which frustrated N.C. State with a zone.

"That had to be the best (the Blue Devils) played when we saw them in Durham," Brey said. "They're playing really well now. We're going to have to attack the zone. That's something that they've evolved into and we're going to have to be good against that.

"Can we guard them? That is the next-level challenge defensively for us."

Duke shot 60.8 percent overall and hit 9 of 15 from 3-point range in the last meeting while holding Notre Dame to 39.7 percent from the field.

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