Last time these teams played was in the ACC Tournament and Duke was thin and exhausted. Not to mention, both teams are trending in completely different directions. The Blue Devils will look to steal a road game at the Joyce Center against a Fighting Irish team that has dropped two straight. At 16-5, Duke is not where they believed they'd be, yet, are still competing in the top 25. The Blue Devils don't have a shutdown defender, so they have to rely on great communication.
Notre Dame, however, has been successful defending the 3, forcing opponents to take tough shots and shoot less than 35 percent.
There are momentum-killers, and then there is a dagger coming from Allen, who had endured enough unprintable taunts from the Irish student section that the Grotto will undoubtedly be busier than normal later this week.
Irish junior forward V.J. Beachem dribbles away from a defender during Notre Dame's 84-74 loss to Duke on Monday at Purcell Pavilion. If Duke doesn't defend well - again - they're not going to win without an offensive explosion, which is certainly possible.
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This one was the sort of close, taught major conference game that you expect to find as the calendar is about to turn to February.
"We really trust our depth", Allen said.
This was also the Blue Devils' second win since being banned from their locker room by coach Mike Krzyzewski last week.
It also were the fewest points scored in a half by the Irish, who had no answers.
GT struggled heavily with turnovers in this game, but they made up for it by dominating the boards.
If Duke can play smart, hang on to the ball, stay out of foul trouble, limit Notre Dame's perimeter attack and exploit the mismatches, its a winnable game. If one or two of their core players has a big night, the Irish won't pull off this victory.
The problem Notre Dame seems to have is that their stars are spotty. The defense will have to be sharp and someone will have to deal with Colson, who presents a challenging mismatch as a 6-5 post player. After starting out 5-0 in league play, the squad has lost three of its last four games and will need a big effort on Monday night against a talented but erratic Duke squad. Notre Dame has a lot of talent on the perimeter but so does Duke.
Meanwhile, Florida State and Notre Dame went into the week a combined 12-2 in ACC play.
NO. 12 NOTRE DAME vs. They haven't been good because they haven't scored it.
"We're going to have to score some points to beat some people in this league". Frankly, it's hard to say the Irish have shown they can win in big moments this season because they haven't shown it. Krzyzewski's doctors anticipated his recovery time would be up to four weeks, meaning he could return when Duke plays Pittsburgh at home on Saturday (1 p.m., WNCN). Monday was Notre Dame's fourth sellout of the season, all in ACC play.
Asked why they've been able to have so much success against this program, Vasturia just kind of shrugged.