Preview: No. 4 Duke @ No. 8 Notre Dame

Three days after Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski claimed the 1,000th victory of his coaching career, Notre Dame shoots for its 600th victory at Purcell Pavilion, which opened in 1968 under the name Athletic & Convocation Center.

• Game 22: No. 4/4 Duke (17-2, 4-2) @ No. 8/8 Notre Dame (19-2, 7-1)
• Date: Jan. 28, 2015
• Place: Purcell Pavilion; Notre Dame, Ind.
• Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN2
• Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
• Location: Durham, N.C.
• Nickname: Blue Devils
• 2013-14 record: 26-9 (13-5; 3rd in ACC)

Duke Tech Head Coach
Mike Krzyzewski (35th year at Duke) -- Career record: 1,000-308 in 40 years overall (73-59 in five seasons at Army; 927-249 in 35th year at Duke.

Krzyzewski, 67, is the winningest Division I men’s college basketball coach of all-time, recording his 1,000th win Sunday in a come-from-behind victory over St. John’s. Krzyzewski has led Duke to four national titles, 11 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular-season titles, and 13 ACC tournament championships. He also coached the United States men’s basketball team to Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

Born in Chicago and a point guard at Army (1966-69) under head coach Bob Knight, Krzyzewski coached as an assistant at Indiana for one season before taking over at his alma mater in 1975, where he led the Cadets to 39 victories in back-to-back seasons combined. At Duke, Krzyzewski has led Duke to an incredible 13 seasons of at least 30 victories.

Duke Scouting Report
Despite – although some may say -- because the Blue Devils feature three freshmen among their top six contributors, they rank among the nation’s top 45 teams in field-goal percentage (6th at .499), scoring (27th at 81.6 ppg.), assists (27th at 15.7/game) and rebounding (44th at 38.1/game).

Sensational 6-foot-11, 270-pound freshman Jahlil Okafor has lived up to his billing for the Blue Devils, scoring in double figures in each of Duke’s 19 games while averaging 18.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Of his six double-doubles, four have come in ACC play, including a 28-point, eight-rebound performance against Boston College, and a 23-point, 12-rebound effort versus North Carolina State.

Okafor is shooting an astounding 67.1 percent from the field (143-of-213) with 75 offensive rebounds and 29 blocked shots. The negatives include 47 turnovers (2.47 per game) and a 57.9 free-throw percentage (66-of-114), although he compensates by getting to the line frequently.

If Notre Dame doesn’t have the best backcourt in the ACC with Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson, the nod probably goes to Duke’s Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones.

Cook, a 6-foot-2 senior, averages 14.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting an incredible 95.2 percent (40-of-42) from the free-throw line. With 50 three-pointers, Cook has made at least three from beyond the arc in 11 of 19 games.

Jones – averaging 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game – offers a fascinating match-up against Notre Dame’s Jackson. Jones attacks the basket frequently -- as his 87 free-throw attempts (and 77 made for an 85.5 percentage) will attest -- and is one of four Duke players with at least 20 three-pointers made. Jones tied a career-high in each of the last two games, tossing in 22 points against Pittsburgh and St. John’s to duplicate his output against Wisconsin in December.

The third freshman in the equation is 6-foot-6, 225-pound Justise Winslow, who is averaging 10.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He has converted 22 three-pointers (at a 36.8 percent rate), but is shooting just 56.8 percent from the line and has scored just 12 points in the last four games combined.

Juniors Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaimon give the Blue Devils some experience to balance out the freshman-laden squad. Jefferson, a 6-foot-9, 215-pounder, averages 9.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He is second on the team in offensive rebounds with 56. Jefferson came up big in Duke’s bounce-back game at Louisville when he tossed in 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field.

Sulaimon scores at a 7.7 clip and is second on the team in three-pointers made with 23 while shooting 41.8 percent from distance.

Brey on slowing down Okafor
“(Okafor has) been seeing a lot of double teams from big to big, but we don’t really do that. We’ve kind of helped off the perimeter when we’ve needed to help in the post. But you have to be careful about that because they have the ability to knock down threes, and that’s when they get going and can really score.

“Our bigs are going to have to really do a good job of guarding (Okafor) one-on-one and being in a good stance and trying to get him to at least catch the ball off the block a little bit.”

Brey on Krzyzewski
“Coaching for him, I was really spoiled. I was there eight years and we went to six Final Fours. The back-to-back years where we won the championship with an unbelievable group of talented guys were amazing. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to be with (Krzyzewski) for eight years.”

Duke-Notre Dame Preview
After winning their first 14 games, including triumphs over Temple and Stanford in November, Wisconsin and Connecticut in December, and Boston College and Wake Forest to open ACC play, the Blue Devils stumbled in uncharacteristic fashion, falling by 12 at North Carolina State, and then suffering a stunning 16-point loss at home against Miami.

Mike Krzyzewski’s squad rebounded in typical Duke fashion, knocking off Louisville, 63-52, in the KFC Yum! Center. The Blue Devils held the Cardinals to 29.5 percent shooting from the field and 16.0 percent (4-of-25) from three-point range.

The Blue Devils followed that up with a 79-65 home victory over Pittsburgh, and then overcame a 10-point deficit with less than nine minutes remaining for a 77-68 victory over St. John’s in Madison Square Garden for Krzyzewski’s 1000th victory.

Led by 6-foot-1l, 270-pound freshman sensation Jahlil Okafor, Duke offers a powerful inside-outside presence with four players with at least 20 three-pointers, led by Quinn Cook (50-of-129).

The Irish have been able to mitigate their rebounding woes from earlier in the season with the return of Zach Auguste from a one-game academic-related hiatus, the relentless backboard work of Pat Connaughton, and the length of freshman Bonzie Colson, who plays much longer than his 6-foot-5 measurement.

But if there’s a game in which Notre Dame’s issues on the backboards can be exposed, this is it as Okafor and Amile Jefferson provide a one-two punch the Irish can’t duplicate. One way to offset the shortcoming is to make shots at a high rate. The Irish are prepared for that with a 52.1 shooting percentage on the season, a 53.7 mark at home and a 47.0 percentage against ACC teams in Purcell Pavilion.

More than anything, however, this likely will come down to Notre Dame’s ability to force Duke into a poor shooting game, which is difficult when Okafor is making two-thirds of his field-goal attempts, and Cook and Tyus Jones are virtually automatic from the free-throw line.

If it becomes a free-throw shooting contest, the two not to foul are Cook and Jones, who are an absurd 117-of-129 (.906) from the charity stripe. Okafor, Winslow and Jefferson, however, are a combined 145-of-249 (.622).

Notre Dame will be shooting for its 600th victory at the old Athletic & Convocation Center, which became the Joyce Center and now goes by Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Whatever you choose to call it, this has been the setting for some of the greatest upsets in college basketball history.

This one wouldn’t quite fall into that category. In fact, with a more veteran basketball team, one wouldn’t be crawling out on a limb to say the Irish are well-positioned to win this game.

• Pointspread: Duke by 1½
• Irish Illustrated Prediction: Notre Dame 74, Duke 71
• Season record: 14-7 straight up; 6-7 vs. points


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