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Men’s Basketball

‘That counted as one loss?’: Notre Dame dominated by Duke, 94-60

| Monday, February 17, 2020

“That counted as one loss?” Irish head coach Mike Brey quipped in his post game press conference.

Brey attempted to keep the mood light after his team was dominated by Duke (22-3, 12-2 ACC) from start to finish, falling 94-60.

“Wow, they were great. They were fabulous,” he said. 

The Irish (15-10, 6-8 ACC) were led by strong play from senior forwards John Mooney and Juwan Durham, who finished with 19 and 21 points respectively, but struggled to get anything offensively from their guards. Brey praised Durham especially, who has seen his playing time cut occasionally this season as the Irish utilize a small-ball lineup.

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish sophomore guard Dane Goodwin fires a jump shot during Notre Dame’s 80-72 victory over Georgia Tech on Feb. 1 at Purcell Pavilion.

“I thought [he] really played well, and battled,” Brey said.

However, the rest of Notre Dame’s starters combined for just six points, all from sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb. Senior guard TJ Gibbs, who averages 13.2 points per game, was scoreless on 0-7 shooting. 

Brey credited Duke’s defense for the Irish’s offensive woes.

“We couldn’t get anything going from our guards,” he said. “I think it was their ball pressure.”

Notre Dame turned the ball over an uncharacteristically high 14 times, leading to 24 fast break points for Duke. 

Both teams opened the game hot from the field.  Durham had eight of the first 10 points for the Irish, and a one-handed dunk made the score 12-10 Duke. Duke then went on a quick 8-2 run to extend their lead to eight points. 

Notre Dame closed the gap to just one point with a 7-0 run, courtesy of a three from sophomore guard Dane Goodwin and two John Mooney baskets inside, but Duke immediately responded with a 9-0 run of their own. It was finally ended by a Durham fadeaway jumper. 

A fastbreak three with just under three minutes left extended Duke’s lead to 12 points, forcing Brey to take a timeout. The teams traded baskets for the rest of the half, and Duke led 42-32 at the half. Mooney and Durham combined for 27 of the Irish’s 32 first half points. 

Duke was led by freshman forward Vernon Carey Jr. and and sophomore guard Tre Jones, who scored 21 and 19 points throughout the game. Carey scored inside and outside, showing off the offensive versatility that has him projected as a lottery pick should he declare for the draft. 

“When they’re shooting like that, around the big guy, I don’t know what to do,” Brey said. 

Duke was 10-22 from beyond the arc, while Notre Dame was just 5-21.

“We have to make 10 threes to win league games, and I don’t even know if we got 10 great, clean looks,’’ Brey said. “Even the looks we got were rushed because of their speed and closeouts.”

He also had high praise for Jones.

“I have the utmost respect for him,’’ Brey said. “He’s just an assassin, and a winner, and it all starts with him.” 

A Mooney three opened the scoring for the Irish in the second half, but Duke came out red hot, and Brey was forced to take a timeout after Duke opened up a 17 point lead. A Prentiss Hubb corner three cut the lead to 16, but after a timeout, Duke went on a 17-3 run and soon led by 30 points.

“We were dead with 15 minutes left in the game,’’ Brey said. “I was trying to see if we could do running clock.”  

Over the last eight minutes of the game, Duke’s ferocious defense continued to stifle the Irish, and Notre Dame’s defense struggled to get stops. Duke would go on to win 94-60 after both teams emptied their benches in the last few minutes, getting younger players some reps.

The Irish return home for another big game against North Carolina on Monday night. Brey was already thinking about that game before the Duke game was over.

“The whole last 10 minutes in timeouts, I was talking about Monday night. We got to turn around mentally here and get ready to play against North Carolina on Monday and see if we can get out of this stretch, that started at Clemson, 2-2,” he said. “That’s probably as good as it gets.”

The Tar Heels (10-15, 3-11 ACC), ranked as a preseason top-10 team, have faltered as of late, losing their last five games, and sit last in the ACC. However, they have taken both Duke and Virginia down to the wire in the last three games, losing to each on a buzzer beater. They still boast a talented roster, led by junior forward Garrison Brooks, who scores 14.9 points per game, and freshman guard Cole Anthony, the number one recruit in the class of 2019. They will undoubtedly pose a challenge for a Notre Dame team trying to get back on track after losing their last two games. 

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Purcell Pavilion and the game will broadcast live on ESPN.

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