Duke denies Notre Dame in dominant fashion
Paul Atkinson Jr. looked like he belonged.
Notre Dame's graduate senior forward scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Monday night's 57-43 loss to No. 9 Duke.
Everything else for the Irish looked lost.
The scoring wasn't there. Notre Dame's 42 points were its fewest since scoring 41 in a loss to Georgetown on Feb. 27, 2012.
The shooting wasn't there. The Irish finished 17-of-61 (27.9%) from the field and 3-of-18 (16.7%) from 3 — season-low percentages for both.
The rebounding wasn't there. Duke dominated on the glass with a 51-36 advantage.
Practically none of what allowed the Irish (14-7, 7-3 ACC) to win 10 of their previous 11 games showed up in Purcell Pavilion on Monday night. Even with a sellout crowd of 9,149 for the first time since 2019 — some of which came to support Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski in his final game in South Bend — Notre Dame fell flat against an ACC foe.
The final margin of 14 points didn't capture the one-sided nature of the performance. Notre Dame trailed 27-14 at halftime and the deficit never shrank from there. Duke led by as many as 22 points and led for 36:46 of the game's 40 minutes.
"I though we took some bad shots," said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. "Took some quick shots. The moment maybe had us playing a little fast and excited too."
The Blue Devils (18-3, 8-2 ACC) didn't even play that sharp offensively. Duke's 29-of-66 (39.4%) shooting effort fell well short of its 48.8% season average. Duke even managed to shoot slightly worse than Notre Dame from beyond the arc: 3-of-19.
That didn't make a difference Monday night. Senior guard Dane Goodwin, Notre Dame's leading scorer this season with an average of 15.4 points, was held scoreless. Freshman guard Blake Wesley, who entered the game with a 16.7-point average in ACC play, struggled to get six points on 3-of-15 shooting.
Duke's defensive size challenged the Irish. The 7-foot-1, 242-pound Mark Williams blocked three Notre Dame shots. The Blue Devils finished with six blocks and seven steals.
"They're hard to play against," Brey said. "They really took our shooters away, and then they have the shot blocker back there when you turn the corner."
Forward Paolo Banchero led Duke with 21 points. Forward AJ Griffin added 13.
Notre Dame had an opportunity Monday night to prove its recent stretch of winning wasn't the result of an ACC that lacks depth at the top of the conference. The matchup with Duke was Notre Dame's first against a conference opponent ranked in the AP poll this season.
Even ACC-leading Miami, who the Irish will hit the road to play Wednesday (7 p.m. EST on ACC Network), was left out of the most recent AP Top 25.
Notre Dame wasted an opportunity against Duke for an NCAA Tournament résumé builder to match its victory over then-No. 10/now-No. 5 Kentucky on Dec. 11. Notre Dame will now head into February needing to make sure the lumps it took Monday didn't leave welts and deflate the momentum built in January.
The Irish rebounded from an uninspiring start in November to turn the Duke matchup into a game worthy of ESPN's Big Monday presentation. They'll have to bounce back again if they want to prove they belong when it matters in March.
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