In just their second “true” road game of the season, the Duke men’s basketball team was tested in South Bend, Indiana. In their first ACC game of the season, the Blue Devils blew a ten point second half lead to give Notre Dame their first ever ACC win by a 79-77 score.
It was Duke’s first ACC opening loss in seven seasons.
Despite getting killed inside in the first half (22-6 deficit on points in the paint), the Blue Devils led 37-25 at halftime courtesy of Rodney Hood. He hit two straight three pointers, including one with about two seconds left. Duke made eight 3-pointers in the first half to keep them in the game.
In the second half, Duke played better defense and hit some more shots to pull away (or so I thought). Then, the Irish went on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 60-60 with 7:45 to go.
With 6:20 to go, the Irish took their first lead since two seconds into the game and held on for the win, despite terrible free throw shooting (13-of-24).
After being plagued by illness over the last week, Hood recovered to lead all scorers with 27 points on 8-of-17 shooting. However, he had the key turnover with nine seconds left and down by two points. Quinn Cook also had a solid game, scoring 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He also had four rebounds and four assists.
Down the stretch in the second half, freshman sensation Jabari Parker could be found on the bench. The reason he was sitting on the bench? He took too many poor shots and really was not involving his teammates when he had the ball. It was nice to see that he was not sulking, he was cheering his teammates on. Parker had the worst game of his short collegiate career: seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Amile Jefferson came off the bench to score just four points, but he did haul in nine rebounds, four on the offensive end. As a team, the Blue Devils only had seven offensive boards (they were out-rebounded 40-29).
For Notre Dame, who is playing without their best player due to academic reasons, Eric Atkins scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He also dished out 11 assists, seven coming in the second half. Pat Connaughton, who is ranked #34 among college baseball players heading into the 2014 draft, scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He also hauled in eight rebounds and dished out five assists. He had two huge dunks (one over Parker and one when Hood left him open) when the Irish needed points the most in the second half.
Next up for Duke, is their first home ACC matchup. The Blue Devils welcome Georgia Tech to town on Tuesday night (7pm ET on ESPNU).
*This loss just proved that Duke will get beat by ANY team that has size inside. If the Blue Devils continue to get zero output from Josh Hairston (who actually starts) and Marshall Plumlee (who does not play much), it could be a long season in Durham.