photo credit: Rachel Pincus

It was hard to predict how the Duke Blue Devils would respond to missing one of it’s top freshman players, coming off of a loss at home to Illinois and playing it’s first road game of the year which was also it’s first ACC game – all firsts for the freshman class. Notre Dame was the older team, the better shooting team (at least coming into the game) and they had the home court advantage but the Blue Devils took control of the game early and never really looked back. Duke was methodical, consistent, efficient and in constant motion offensively. If I told you prior to the start of the game that Notre Dame would shoot 50% in the first half you would have probably thought Duke would be down double digits – but the Blue Devils shot 55% including 5-10 from 3 point range in the first half. The Blue Devils rode 10 points from Matthew Hurt and 8 from freshman Jeremy Roach to a 7 point lead at the half. Hurt, doing his best Dirk Nowitzki impersonation was 4-9 with 2 rebounds and 2 assists in the first 20.

Duke didn’t let up, pushing their second half lead to as much as 17. After shooting 50% from 3 point range in the first half, Duke shot 60% from 3 in the second half. Matthew Hurt followed up his 8 point first half with 10 in the second half finishing the game with 18 points on 8-17 shooting to lead the Blue Devils. DJ Steward added 16 points for the Blue Devils playing 29 minutes and playing with what looked like a renewed confidence and assertiveness. The freshman guard hit 3-4 from 3 point range and added 7 rebounds and 2 steals. Jaemyn Brakefield may be the biggest surprise of the season so far for the Blue Devils, the freshman has played like anything but a freshmen. Brakefield has been instant offense for Duke and added 10 points hitting both of his 3 point attempts and going 4-8 overall. Brakefield was all over the floor for Duke taking a charges rebounding the basketball, dishing a nice assist to a cutting DJ Steward.

One big difference in this game for the Blue Devils was guard play. Turnovers had plagued the Blue Devils who were averaging 16 per game coming into Wednesday night. Tonight the starting guards were only attributed with 3 turnovers and Duke as a team only coughed up the ball 8 times. In addition to better valuing of the basketball the guards provided some scoring punch for the Blue Devils with Jeremy Roach following up his 13 points against Illinois with 14 points against the Fighting Irish. Jordan Goldwire added 9 points and 2 assists.

 

Stats of the Game:

Duke outrebounded the Irish 33-23. Duke had 8 steals of the Irish. Duke also had 34 points in the paint to just 20 for Notre Dame.

##PlayerGSMINFG3PTFTORB-DRBREBPFATOBLKSTLPTS
2121 Matthew Hurt*388-170-22-21-452312118
0202 DJ Steward*296-113-41-12-572110216
0303 Jeremy Roach*355-62-32-20-111020114
1414 Jordan Goldwire*334-81-40-01-23321019
1212 Patrick Tape*91-40-00-01-23210012
0505 Jaemyn Brakefield244-82-20-02-352100110
1515 Mark Williams82-20-00-00-22000004
1313 Joey Baker151-20-00-00-00001012
0000 Wendell Moore Jr.90-20-00-00-44102000
TMTM TEAM00-00-00-02-13000000
Totals20031-608-155-59-243313882875

DUKE HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

 

Opening statement:

“Obviously, we’re ecstatic about the win. Mike [Brey’s] team is a very difficult team to defend. They have all of these shooters and he’s one of the best at teaching offense, and they’re a veteran team. To beat them, we feel great about it. I thought our defense was excellent and our game preparation – we really worked hard to prepare for this game. It was our best preparation. Even today – usually we have a shootaround where you just get shots up – we pretty much had an hour practice to go through the execution of offense and defense. Our kids responded. Matt [Hurt], we got him the ball more and he’s close to having a huge game, but even him touching the ball forces the other team to help and that opens it up for other guys. Our guard duo of Jeremy [Roach] and J-Gold (Jordan Goldwire) was excellent today. DJ [Steward] responded. We played a very good game tonight and beat a really good team.”

 

On instilling confidence into the team after a 2-2 start:

“We’re such a young team, so you play against Michigan State and Illinois – they can take a little bit of your confidence away. They’re two of the top teams in the country and I don’t think we were ready to prepare to the level for those games as we did for this game. With the cancellation, the game [versus] Charleston Southern was not played and then we decided not to play the last game – the game that was going to be rescheduled. It gave us more preparation time. We needed to do that and they responded. They really responded well. This is a big win for these kids. We’re not any kind of juggernaut. We can be a good team, but in order to be a very good team it’s going to take some seasoning because it’s not like the teams we’ve had over the last number of years. It’s got to be brought along a little bit of a different way.”

 

On how the team has practiced since its last game:

“They’ve been good in practice. You can practice offense and defense, but until you face high-level competition, you don’t know just how hard and how sharp you’re going to have to be. It’s called experience, and that’s why you see the veteran teams doing so much better than the younger teams, unless a younger team has exceptional talent. Sometimes our teams get away with that, but our team has good talent – not exceptional – and so we just need to keep learning through the experience of playing these good teams.”

 

On the team’s ability to close out the game when Notre Dame cut into the lead:

“It got down to five points where there’s a lot of game pressure, and our kids made plays. We didn’t call a play, they just made some plays and then when they were pressing us, we never turned it over. It’s on my team. They got better tonight. I think, too, they’re becoming more and more comfortable playing with one another. Jeremy [Roach] played like a veteran tonight and J-Gold (Jordan Goldwire), I think helped DJ [Steward]. DJ hit some big buckets for us. Hopefully we can keep that going.”

 

On what he saw during Duke’s 9-0 run late in the second half:

“I don’t know an exact answer to that, but they did it. It wasn’t some coaching move or whatever – they did it. I do think they invested a lot in this game in preparation, and when you invest a lot, you don’t want to lose your investment. I think that showed up for them. But they did that on their own. It’s one of the things that makes me even more happy and proud of them.”

 

On if he sees freshman DJ Steward becoming an ‘Alpha Dog’ on the team:

“Well, have you seen his body? He’s not going to be an alpha dog for a while, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a dog. He was that today. I have a lot of confidence in DJ. He’s learning the college game. He took better shots today and I think part of getting better shots was Matt [Hurt] touching the ball, and also having [Jaemyn] Brakefield in. Brakefield had a hell of a game for us. [At the] end of [the shot clock], DJ hit a couple huge buckets – a three and a drive. He played really good defense too. He’s just got to keep growing. We’re small on the perimeter, but all three of those kids really had outstanding games tonight.”

SOPHOMORE FORWARD MATT HURT

On the flow of the offense…

“We worked on it a lot during practice, moving off the ball, getting a couple sets in and play out of it. Just ball movement, dribble drive, getting in the lane and kicking out to open shooters and just finding the open guy.”

 

On bouncing back from the loss to Illinois…

“We didn’t play well against Illinois. We had eight days to get our minds and bodies right for this game. This team (Notre Dame) is a really talented team. They’re an older team. We just had to come out and set the tone early on the defensive end and let it flow on offense.”

 

On the freshman trio of DJ Steward, Jaemyn Brakefield and Jeremy Roach’s growing confidence…

“For sure. All three of them bring their own different skillset. They have improved since day one, even after Illinois, but seeing them grow and get better on the court whether it is film or working with the coaches, it is a really great sight to see for me.”

 

On it being Duke’s first true road game…

“It was our first true road game. We had to come out with energy. Coach C-Well [Chris Carrawell] had a great scout today, and we executed it perfectly. We are trying to learn from this game. We will watch the bads from this game and keep moving game to game.”

 

On being in a rhythm off the three-point line…

“Teams last year scouted me as a three-point shooter. Even if your three-point shot is not falling, try to be aggressive in different ways, score in different ways and just try to impact the game in different ways. Whether it is defense, offense or on the rim, basketball is more than just about threes so try to impact the game.”

 

FRESHMAN GUARD DJ STEWARD

On the offense when the shots are falling…

“We are a really good defensive team. Just picking up our offense in this game, we had a tough game against Illinois. Hitting shots in this game gave us a lot of confidence and will give us a lot of confidence going forward. We are glad to make shots. We have been in the gym sharing the ball really well. Our perimeter has been sharing the ball well. We are focusing on getting the ball inside and then going out.”

 

On the freshman trio of Steward, Brakefield and Roach’s growing confidence in the past week…

“Showing poise and letting the game come to us. We are freshmen, so we go out there and we are excited to play. We just have to stay composed and be ready to play and be poised.”

 

On his game translating to the college level…

“Being able to play on and off the ball. Just moving around and my teammates are hitting me in the right spots. That’s what is helping me. And being poised and letting the game come to me.”

 

On what he saw from his team defensively…

“It is a big key. Our turnovers came from us not playing together and sharing the ball. Our key thing in practice was sharing the ball and playing together, playing off each other. We did that pretty well tonight and that’s why our turnovers were low.”

 

On stifling Notre Dame’s runs as a young team on the road…

“Notre Dame is a really good team. They have a lot of veterans and we struggle with veterans. Coach K, what he said tonight, was that we played like veterans. We went out there and stuck with it. We knew they weren’t going to go away and they were going to hit shots. We just had stick with it and play defense and let it lead to our offense.”

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