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Men’s Basketball

ND struggles on road in tough loss to Duke

| Monday, February 9, 2015

No. 10 Notre Dame left Durham, North Carolina, on Saturday after its worst loss ever under coach Mike Brey, losing to No. 4 Duke, 90-60.

Notre Dame (21-4, 9-3 ACC) defeated the Blue Devils (20-3, 7-3 ACC) at Purcell Pavilion on Jan. 28, led by senior guard Jerian Grant, who scored 23 points and dished out a career-high 12 assists. In its second matchup at Duke, Notre Dame struggled to score any points against Duke’s stifling defense.

The Irish have come back from large deficits to win earlier in the season, including an 18-point deficit against North Carolina State on Jan. 25. However, the Irish didn’t get within 18 points in the second half against Duke.

“Their ball pressure harassed us, bothered us and never let Jerian Grant or any of us get into rhythm,” Brey said. “It was one of those where you’re hanging on for dear life, and in this league, you’ve got to have a short memory.”

The Irish started the game off with two quick 3-pointers from sophomore guard Steve Vasturia and senior captain and forward Pat Connaughton, but Duke outscored Notre Dame, 50-18, for the rest of the first half on 81-percent shooting.

Despite Blue Devils freshman center Jahlil Okafor getting into foul trouble early, freshman forward Justise Winslow, freshman guard Tyus Jones and sophomore guard Matt Jones took over the offense and took advantage of Notre Dame’s lapses in defense. Winslow finished the game with 19 points and 11 boards, Tyus Jones scored 12 points to go along with seven assists and Matt Jones contributed 17 points, including three 3-pointers in the first half.

“I’ve seen them play a bunch, and that has to be one of their best outings,” Brey said.

Okafor tallied a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. As a team, the Blue Devils made 60.8 percent of their field goals while holding one of the most efficient offenses in the nation to under 39.7 percent shooting.

In addition to allowing nine 3-pointers, the Irish allowed the Blue Devils to outscore them, 42-26, in the paint, the second most points in the paint scored by an ACC team this season.

“They got to our lane too easily,” Brey said. “After we go up six to nothing, they started driving, and that really hurt us. Our defense let us down today.”

Along with allowing a season-high 90 points, Notre Dame’s offense was held to just 60 points, its second lowest offensive showing on the season.

Sophomore guard Demetrius Jackson and Vasturia were the only Irish scorers in double figures, while the top two offensive contributors on the team, Grant and junior forward Zach Auguste, were held to seven and zero points, respectively.

“We’ll move on quickly,” Brey said. “I would hope, and I would think — given the leaders I have and the leaders of this group — that they’ll bounce back in another tough place to play against a team that can guard us really just as well. We have a big challenge at Clemson.”

Despite the loss, Notre Dame sits in second place in the ACC with a 9-3 conference record, one game behind conference-leader Virginia.

“I think this group will bounce back very quickly,” Brey said. “They’ve been through a lot; they’ve been a really tight group.”

Notre Dame will travel to Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, South Carolina, on Tuesday to take on Clemson in the first of its two matchups against the Tigers this season.

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

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