The Blue Devils didn’t play their best game against Notre Dame Wednesday night, but they did play a better game in a lot of ways. The effort on both ends of the floor for the Blue Devils was much improved from what they displayed against North Carolina – still not what it needs to be to compete with the upper echelons of the ACC… but better. The now 17-5 Blue Devils won at home against the Irish 71-53 in a game that left a lot to be desired.
The Blue Devils did bring a higher level of energy to the game, getting after rebounds and loose balls but with that, at least in the first half, came a lot of turnovers. Duke turnovers and miscues transformed a game that was clearly headed toward a runaway into just an 8 point advantage at the half. Whether it was live ball turnovers, fouling a shooter on a 3-point shot attempt or giving up open looks from beyond the arc the Blue Devils just weren’t sharp. It’s very easy to just glance at the scoreboard and see an 18 point win but there was still a lot to clean up. The most concerning being the free throw shooting. Duke shot just 60% for the game and even that doesn’t tell the entire story of points left at the rim – including a pair of 1 & 1’s that Duke failed to convert the first therefore losing the second. Duke missed 10 free throws and lost the chance at 2 others – 12 points left at the line. Duke also shot a season-low 22.2% from the 3-point line – mostly on open shots. That coupled with the 10 points the Irish scored off of Duke turnovers in the first half kept this game more competitive than it should have been.
It seems that coach Micah Shrewsberry could write a book on how to stop Kyle Filipowski as once again the Irish held the sophomore big man in check. The Irish only allowed the 7-footer 8 points on 2 of 9 shooting and 3 turnovers. The Blue Devil big man had trouble operating in the paint despite generally having a sizable advantage in height and girth against the entire Notre Dame team.
The Blue Devils did have some bright spots in the win including double-figure minutes from Sean Stewart who scored 4 points – including an impressive alley-oop dunk, grabbed 5 rebounds and netted 3 steals making the most of this time. Duke was led in scoring by Mark Mitchell and Caleb Foster who both added 13 points each. Jared McCain reached double-figures with 11.