Abridged Game Preview & Recap of NC State

Duke Blue Devils [23-9, 12-7] vs. Notre Dame Irish [20-10, 11-7]

Thursday, March 10, 2016 • 2:30 PM • ACC Network/ESPN • Washington, DC • Verizon Center

By Randy Dunson [Note: Please direct comments, suggestions, etc. to @RandyDunson.]


The Duke Blue Devils inched past a determined NC State Wolfpack 92-89 on the strength of dual 22 point efforts from freshmen Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard. Both teams were hot from the field shooting over 50% for the game. The game for fans was a great ACCT shootout with the lead changing 20 times and tied 18 times. Defensively neither team was bad but offensively both teams were dialed in. There were high degree of difficulty shots made by both sides and the first team to get a few stops in a row would be the team that took the game.

Duke was able to fix a lot of the issues that were a detriment in the last game versus UNC. Duke did lose the rebounding battle but only by 2 and it didn’t result in an advantage by NC State in 2nd chance points which we’re dead even at 10.


This is the 27th matchup between the two programs. Duke leads the all-time series 20-8, but the Irish won the last meeting 95-91 on January 16.

Notre Dame Overview

2000px-NotreDameFightingIrish.svgThe Irish are coming off an 89-75 home win over NC State on March 5, a game in which they pulled away and controlled almost the entire second half.

Head coach Mike Brey shook things up a bit after the Irish struggled mightily in a 77-56 loss at Florida State on February 27 and a 68-50 home defeat to Miami March 2, having his squad push the pace in transition, getting into their sets quicker and even score a few baskets on the break.

The adjustment worked, at least for the single game. The Irish bounced back from the season-worst 50-point performance against Miami to post one of their best season totals with 89 points, and shifted from a season-low 57 possessions against the Hurricanes to 72 against the Wolfpack, their second-highest mark of the year.

Interestingly, Notre Dame’s first game against Duke was only a slightly lower 70 possessions, and that day was the most efficient outing of the year for the Irish. Sophomore forward Bonzie Colson scored 31 points off the bench, spearheading the Irish to a 95-91 win, which was their first in Cameron Indoor in school history.

There is also the recent series history to note. Notre Dame has won four of its last five matchups against Duke, although the lone loss was a 90-60 blowout at Cameron Indoor on February 7, 2015.

Key Irish Players

Demetrius Jackson — Leads the Irish in scoring (15.9 points per game), assists (5.0 per game), and steals (1.3 per game).

Steve Vasturia — Averaging a team-high 36.2 minutes per game.

V.J. Beachem — Made 69 of 163 three-point attempts (42.3 percent) so far this season.

Bonzie Colson — Rated as Notre Dame’s most efficient offensive starter of the year.

Zach Auguste — Averaging a double-double on the season.

Duke Overview

DUKEThe Blue Devils are coming off a 92-89 win over NC State on March 9 in the second round of the ACC tournament. The Wolfpack had defeated Wake Forest the day before, and were noticeably gassed for a large portion of the second half against Duke, but Mike Krzyzewski’s squad could not put their foot down to pull away by a large margin.

They are not playing as balanced on both ends of the floor as they were the first time they faced the Irish. Entering the January 16 matchup, the Blue Devils ranked fourth nationally in offensive efficiency and 60th in the country in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom.com.

That potent offense is still there, but the defense has tumbled to just 112th nationally. You did not need stats or efficiency rankings to see evidence of that in the three-point win over the Wolfpack, really, neither side played much defense.

Offensively they excel at not turning the ball over, ranking 5th nationally in turnover rate. They also shoot the ball well, checking in at 28th in the country with a 54.1 effective field goal percentage.

Sophomore guard Grayson Allen ranks No. 9 nationally in kenpom.com’s MVP category, averaging 21.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. They are also led by freshman forward Brandon Ingram (16.7 points per contest), who some experts think could potentially overtake LSU freshman Ben Simmons as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Defensively the Blue Devils are most vulnerable on the glass, ranking 321st nationally in defensive rebounding rate. Zach Auguste, Bonzie Colson and crew pounding the boards could be a key.

Game Notables

  • Duke is one of three programs nationally with more than 200 wins and a winning percentage of better than .820 this decade (also Kansas and Kentucky).
  • Mike Krzyzewski has guided Duke to 20 or more wins in 20 consecutive seasons, becoming the third Division I men’s coach to do so. Duke won 10+ ACC games for the 19th in the last 20 seasons.
  • Grayson Allen figured prominently in today’s game against State when he was assessed an F1 foul for a very obvious, & foolish in my opinion, when trying to stop Cat Barber on a fast break. It came at a pivotal point in the game where Duke had finally built a comfortable lead in closing minutes of the game. Fouls like this can easily hurt your team.

Keys to Watch For


Duke could not put NC State away on Wednesday, while the Irish just got done blowing them out on March 5, but that game for Notre Dame was at home, and the Wolfpack were playing for their postseason lives against Duke.

The Blue Devils looked visibly frustrated at times in Wednesday’s three-point win. They had to play a full 40 minutes and now face a quick 24-hour turnaround to take on the Irish.

However, Duke is still, well, Duke. In addition, they have to be tired of losing to Notre Dame.

Given that this seems like it could be little more than a coin flip either way, why not? I will roll with the Devils, 82-80.

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