It’s funny how a win can change the entire narrative and attitude of a program. That includes Coach K. Winning solves lots of issues. During a zoom post game call, Mike Krzyzewski reiterated how well the team adapted and gelled together during their 85-75 ACC road win in South Bend.
After hearing backlash from all sports and media affiliates about Coach K’s comments on taking a serious look at this pandemic, cancelling non conference games (something he mentioned before the season), and possibly delaying the season a couple weeks for the mental health and safety of his players – Duke looked refreshed in a new environment last night.
Freshman D.J. Steward agreed the team needed new scenery after the win, adding it was a good feeling being somewhere new with a few fans. (Notre Dame has allowed fans to attend some sporting events, something Duke University has banned at least for the start of the season in all sports.)
What were the 3 keys in Duke’s win?
Matthew Hurt was relentless in the paint. The threes didn’t fall last night, but they didn’t have to. Mike Brey and company had no answer. Hurt scored 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, one steal and had just 2 fouls playing the stretch 5. He did it all. Notre Dame tried fronting the post in the second half, limiting his touches, but Hurt just moved the ball to the open shooters on the wing and backdoor cuts for layups. Whether he was stationed in the paint or on the wings, Matthew was very efficient on both sides of the floor.
Turnovers. Duke’s backcourt of Roach, Goldwire, and Steward attributed to only four turnovers. The team had eight total. Handling the rock efficiently and demonstrating cohesiveness among one another was a determining factor in Duke walking away with road victory.
Depth. Playing 9 deep and getting strong minutes from their bench, consisting of freshman and a grad transfer, Duke may have found its identity without star freshman Jalen Johnson, who is sidelined indefinitely with a foot injury. Roach, Steward and Brakefield combined for 7 of 9 from downtown. The guards were flat out quicker and got into the paint at will. Duke moved the ball, showed patience on offense and finally played with a sense of urgency on defensive end – limiting ACC leading scorer Prentiss Hubb to 12 points after averaging 20 a game. Communication on “D” was pivotal.
Duke is off until December 29 when it hosts Pittsburgh at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game tips at 8 p.m. ET on ACC Network.
- Wednesday’s game marked the fifth time in the last six seasons the Duke has opened ACC play on the road.
- Duke is now 50-18 all-time in ACC openers, including 31-10 in the Coach K era and 13-6 on the road in the Coach K era.
- The series with Notre Dame is now 27-7 in favor of Duke and the Blue Devils have won seven straight and eight of the last 11. In road games, the series now is now 7-4 in Duke’s favor.
- Of the nine Blue Devils that played in the games, eight scored and eight had at least one rebound.
- Duke never trailed in the game, leading for 39:27.
- Freshman guard Jeremy Roach scored a career-high 14 points, setting a new career high for the second consecutive game after scoring 13 versus Illinois.
- Roach also played a career-high 35 minutes, finishing 5-of-6 from the field, 2-of-3 from three-point range and 2-of-2 at the free throw line.
- Freshman DJ Steward finished with 16 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.
- Freshman Jaemyn Brakefield came off the bench to score 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-2 from three-point range and five rebounds in 24 minutes.