NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
11-5 Overall, 2-2 Conference
G- 11 Demetrius Jackson (17.1 ppg, 5.4 apg)
G- 32 Steve Vasturia (11.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
C- 30 Zach Auguste (13.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg)
F- 03 V.J. Beachem (11.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
F- 35 Bonzie Colson (11.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg)
Demetrius Jackson enters Cameron Indoor Stadium as the unquestioned leader of the Irish program. He ranks fifth in the ACC in points per game and ranks second in the league with 5.4 assists per game. Running the show has come naturally to Jackson, but it’s the increased demand on his scoring that both player and coach are focusing on.
"He's still developing on that front," said head coach Mike Brey of his point guard. "It's an area of, 'When do I need to go get mine? When do I need to be a playmaker?'".
Jackson plays 36 minutes per game and will be the barometer for the Irish, though it won’t be only about his scoring when determining how well Notre Dame is faring. In the last game out he struggled tremendously from the field, missing nine of 11 shots against Georgia Tech. However, he stayed steady enough to lead his team to an eight point win by making 13 of 14 free throws along with nine rebounds and eight assists.
Duke will have to pick its poison with Jackson. Will Coach K attempt to guard him with true freshman Derryck Thornton? What about Grayson Allen? Or even Matt Jones?
A LOT OF OPTIONS
While Jackson is the first option on offense and will be orchestrating everything, the Irish can beat you in a number of other ways as well. All in all Notre Dame has five players averaging double figures with another two players bringing nine points per game.
In the middle the Irish get consistent, blue collar production from center Zach Auguste who averages just under 14 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Despite the very balanced scoring approach, Notre Dame has also been inconsistent this year. They have a huge resume win over Iowa, but also losses to Indiana, Alabama, and Monmouth.
GOT TO PLAY SMARTER
Recruiting misses, mis-evaluations, and similar have mixed with injury to provide Duke a razor thin margin of error this season. At times the Blue Devils have been able to overcome the odds due to an extremely efficient offense built around driving to the basket and knocking down open perimeter jumpers.
The goal is to mask the lack on interior fire power and rebounding. Again Clemson, Duke got into early foul trouble and was forced to play conservative. That turned to tentative. And the Tigers ended up taking advantage.
Unless Duke gets more from freshman Chase Jeter (5 fouls in four minutes versus Clemson) or Sean Obi (DNP), the Blue Devils are going to have to maintain tempo and efficiency while avoiding foul trouble. Otherwise, they’ll be in trouble again.
- Duke is 105-4 (.963) at home since 2009-10, marking the third-most home wins and third- best home winning percentage in the NCAA this decade.
- Duke employs one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks, ranking fourth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (119.8) and fifth in the NCAA in scoring offense (86.6).
- Duke has scored nearly a 22.3 percent of its points this season at the free throw line. The Blue Devils have made 55 more free throws (329) than its opponents have attempted (274).
- Duke averages 8.6 three-pointers per game to lead the ACC, and shoots .387 from beyond the arc as a team. Matt Jones leads Duke and ranks fifth in the ACC in three-pointers per game (2.5).
- Grayson Allen has scored in double figures in 15 of 17 games this season. Duke is 19-1 in his career when he scores in double figures.
They Said It:
“They were shell shocked. It was the only time all year those two guys were shell shocked. I loved how Demetrius kind of took the baton, so to speak. I think the rest of the season his voice was more noticeable and more respected.” - Mike Brey on Cameron’s impact on last season’s game
If there’s no help coming in the post, then Duke will need a lift from its home crowd. The game against Clemson, like the game against Utah, was totally winnable for the Blue Devils. But youthful mistakes conspired with foul trouble to change the momentum. That’s not to say Duke didn’t fight - they did. They fought hard, and had a chance to tie or win a the end. That’s something to build on. Overall Notre Dame can match the Blue Devils in explosiveness on the offensive end, but defensively the Irish are struggling tremendously. That plus Duke’s home court advantage should be enough to put the Blue Devils over the top.
Duke - 84
Notre Dame - 78