Game Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Round 2

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Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (19-3, 6-3] vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-3, 9-2]

Saturday, February 7, 2015 • 1:06 PM • CBS • Durham, N.C. • Cameron Indoor Stadium

By Randy Dunson

1. Snapshot

Duke

Duke (19-3, 6-3) hosts Notre Dame (21-3, 9-2) Saturday, February 7 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 1:06 PM with Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Bill Raftery (analyst) and Grant Hill (analyst) calling the action for CBS. The Blue Devils enter the game ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Duke is 68-15 when ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll. Notre Dame is ranked No. 10 in both polls. Duke is 9-7 all-time against the 10th-ranked team in the AP Poll. Duke, Kansas, and Virginia are the only teams in the NCAA to rank in the top 10 of the AP Poll (No. 4), USA Today Coaches Poll (No. 5), Ratings Percentage Index (No. 5), and Strength of Schedule (No. 6). Saturday’s game is Duke’s fifth meeting against an AP top-10 team. The Blue Devils are 3-1 in the previous four contests with the lone loss coming at Notre Dame January 28.

Prior to the game, CBS Sports’ original series, Northwestern Mutual Presents NCAA Men of March, airing at 12:30 PM (ET), will feature head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Profiling top college coaches, the series provides a showcase of the life, philosophy, and style behind some of the best coaches in college basketball. Krzyzewski is joined by Jim Nantz, who sits down with the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at a variety of subjects surrounding the Duke coach’s life, including growing up in Chicago, his coaching journey and earning his 1,000th career win. Following its original airing, the special is scheduled to re-air on CBS Sports Network, with encore presentations on Monday, February 9 (9 PM), Tuesday, February 10 (10 AM), Saturday, February 14 (11 AM), and Monday, February 16 (7:30 PM).

Notre Dame

The rematch of these Top-10 teams is on the docket Saturday when No. 10/10 Notre Dame visits No. 4/5 Duke for a key Atlantic Coast Conference clash. The Fighting Irish and Blue Devils are meeting for the second time in 11 days. Notre Dame topped Duke, 77-73, on January 28 inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. This will be Notre Dame’s first visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium since January 26, 1994 (a 74-72 Duke victory). The Fighting Irish are 0-6 all-time at Duke. Notre Dame is in second place in the ACC standings, while Duke is tied for fifth place. The Fighting Irish have won 17 of their last 19 games.

 

2. Last Time Out

Duke

In its last outing, four players scored in double figures as Duke posted a 72-66 win over Georgia Tech Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Quinn Cook scored a game-high 17 points, all in the second half of play, to go along with three rebounds and four assists. Justise Winslow recorded his second consecutive double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He also added three assists, two blocks, and two steals in the win. Jahlil Okafor finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Matt Jones came off the bench to score 11 points in the first half. Duke collected 40 rebounds in the game, including 14 offensive boards.

Game Notes

  • Duke started 19-3 during the 2011, 2008, and 1999 seasons (since 1996).
  • The Blue Devils have won every game this season (8-0) after recording nine or more steals.
  • Duke has won 86 percent of the time this season (12-2) after committing 10 or fewer turnovers.
  • Duke has won every game this season (14-0) when opponents record 11 or fewer assists.
  • This season Duke has won 82 percent of the time (14-3) when Jahlil Okafor has 14 points or more, 83 percent of the time (5-1) when Tyus Jones plays 38 minutes or more, and 100 percent of the time (8-0) when Justise Winslow has five field goals made or more.
  • This is the 11th game at home this season–Duke has a 24.0 average scoring margin against opponents at home.
  • The top two scorers (Quinn Cook and Justise Winslow) accounted for 44.4 percent of the points.
  • The top two rebounders (Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor) accounted for 45.0 percent of the rebounds.
  • Cook has led the team in scoring in five out of 22 games this season.
  • Winslow has led the team in rebounding in four out of 22 games this season.
  • Cook has five straight double-digit point games.
  • Winslow recorded the second double-digit rebound game of his career.
  • Winslow has three straight double-digit point games.
  • Winslow recorded a double-double. It was the second of his career.
  • Okafor has 22 straight double-digit point games.

Notre Dame

In its last outing, Wednesday’s 71-63 win over Boston College was Notre Dame’s ninth ACC game this season decided by eight points or less. The Irish are 7-2 in those contests. The Fighting Irish were 10-of-21 (47.6%) from three-point range. It marked the eighth time this season Notre Dame made 10 or more three-pointers in game (fourth time in an ACC contest). Notre Dame only turned the ball over nine times. It was the 14th time this season (seventh ACC game) the Irish had less than 10 turnovers in a game. The Irish committed a season-low seven fouls and the Eagles only attempted six free throws. The Fighting Irish were 25-of-50 (50.0%) from the field. Notre Dame has shot 50 percent or above from the floor in 17 of 24 games this season (five times in ACC play). Notre Dame’s 41 first-half points were the most ever for the Irish in the opening half of an ACC game. The Fighting Irish were 7-of-12 from three-point range in the first half. The seven treys tied the most-ever for the Irish in any half of an ACC game. Jerian Grant and Steve Vasturia led the Irish with 17 points apiece. The 17 points matched the most Vasturia has ever scored in an ACC game. Demetrius Jackson pulled down a career-high 10 boards.

Game Notes

  • The Fighting Irish have won every game this season (13-0) after recording 16 or more assists.
  • Notre Dame has won 93 percent of the time this season (13-1) after committing nine or fewer turnovers.
  • ND has won every game this season (4-0) when opponents record three or fewer free throws made.
  • This season Notre Dame has won 88 percent of the time (14-2) when Pat Connaughton has 11 points or more, 85 percent of the time (17-3) when Demetrius Jackson plays 31 minutes or more, and 90 percent of the time (18-2) when Jerian Grant has four field goals made or more.
  • The Fighting Irish have recorded more free throws made than their opponents for the past seven games.
  • This is the 16th game at home this season–ND has a 20.6 average scoring margin against opponents at home.
  • The top two scorers (Jerian Grant and Steve Vasturia) accounted for 47.8 percent of the points.
  • Demetrius Jackson accounted for 32.2 percent of the team’s rebounds.
  • Grant has led the team in scoring in 12 out of 24 games this season.
  • Grant has seven straight double-digit point games.
  • Vasturia had career highs with seven field goals made and three three-pointers.
  • Jackson recorded the first double-digit rebound game of his career.
  • Jackson had career highs with 10 rebounds and 7 defensive rebounds.
  • Zach Auguste has five straight double-digit point games.

 

3. Head-to-Head

Saturday will be the 24th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Duke and the third as Atlantic Coast Conference foes. The Blue Devils lead the series 19-4, but the Irish have won the last two showdowns. Notre Dame captured a 77-73 decision over No. 8 Duke on January 28 inside Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish topped No. 7 Duke, 79-77, last season at Purcell Pavilion in their first-ever ACC game. That snapped Duke’s 11-game win streak in the series. Notre Dame is 0-6 all-time at Duke. Saturday will be Notre Dame’s first visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium since January 26, 1994 (a 74-72 Duke victory). Head coach Mike Brey is 2-1 versus Duke during his Notre Dame tenure (2-2 all-time).

In terms of a few key offensive and defensive statistical parameters, Although Duke’s stats have decreased/increased (where appropriate) since beginning ACC play, Notre Dame has a slight edge in most all of the categories, which give the Irish an overall statistical edge head-to-head.

 

Duke 2014-15 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison Notre Dame
80.2 (+15.6) PPG (Scoring Margin) 80.8 (+16.7)
64.6 Opponents PPG 64.1
56.0 Effective FG% 60.0
49.5 FG% 52.1
42.8 Opponent FG% 41.5
37.2 3PT FG% 40.4
31.1 Opponent 3PT FG% 34.2
38.0 (+6.9) RPG (Rebound Margin) 34.4 (+2.4)
31.0 Opponent RPG 32.0
15.2 APG 15.4
7.4 SPG 6.7
11.1 (+1.5) Turnovers Per Game (Margin) 9.2 (+2.3)
12.6 Opponent TOPG 11.4
3.6 BPG 3.7

 

4. Four Factors to Winning

[If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here, https://www.dukeblogger.com/four-factors-winning/.]

 Duke-ND 4Fs G2

Duke and Notre Dame are split when we look at the four factors. Duke has the edge in offensive rebounding at 37.1% vs. 29.0% and when it comes to getting to the free throw line, at 42.4% vs. 34.4%. Notre Dame shoots the ball more efficiently (eFG%) at 60.0% vs. 56.0% and handles the ball better (14.0% vs. 16.6%).

5. Key Points to Consider

First, a few points regarding both team’s overall profile at this point:

Duke

  • Two main scorers (Cook/Okafor)
  • Highly efficient attack
  • Stingy defense
  • Commits few fouls

Notre Dame

  • Does not turn it over much
  • Commits few fouls
  • Makes the most of its possessions

Now, a few key points to consider (refer to the Endgame). These may often carry over to future games but keys specific to a current opponent will always be mentioned.

  • Foul Shooting
    • Duke has come close to putting itself in holes all year with poor shots at the line
    • In their first meeting, they made just 10-of-20 attempts
  • Put a Ton of Pressure on Zach Auguste
    • Get him into foul trouble early and maintain the pressure
    • He is no match for Okafor so switching defenders on him might be a thought
  • Contain Jerian Grant
    • Jerian Grant had a huge outing against Duke in the first game of the season, and the same thing might happen in Round 2
    • However, who knows if he will drain 23 points, dish out 12 assists and grab six rebounds like he did in that first game
    • Duke absolutely must contain him
  • Justise Winslow’s Continued Success
    • He made sure that everyone knew that he was back by his stellar play in the last two games
    • As long as he remains consistent, he could very well be Duke’s X-factor in this game
  • Find a Way to Exploit Amile Jefferson’s Matchup with Pat Connaughton
    • This is key as we all know how deadly he can be beyond the arc
    • Switching defenders may help here as well


6. Endgame

The rematch between these teams is already here after Notre Dame escaped a week ago in South Bend. Unfortunately, for the Fighting Irish, they lost their next game at Pittsburgh while Duke got a big win at previously undefeated Virginia. Not many will be picking the Irish to win in Durham given that the ‘Cameron mystique’ is in play or has it become tarnished a bit this year?

Notre Dame had a shot to be in first place by themselves, but that loss threw them to the masses and they now have two ACC losses with road games at Duke and Louisville remaining. The Irish have not had an easy win on the road yet. They won close games at UNC, Georgia Tech, and NC State, and fell most recently at Pittsburgh. While they do have the win at North Carolina, it would be a big surprise if they could do the same thing at Duke.

The Blue Devils already have two road wins at Top 10 teams, which is almost unheard of at this point in the year, and they could easily have three if they did not collapse at Notre Dame. Ignoring their two-game losing streak, which looks like an extreme anomaly compared to the rest of the season, Duke has not really been challenged at home yet.

After going down 10 with 10 minutes to go in the first meeting, Notre Dame went on a 12-0 run, which eventually led to a 77-73 win. If they expect to win the same way on the road, they will likely come up short. The Irish shot 51.8% from the field (season average), were out-rebounded, and did not have an answer for Jahlil Okafor (22 points, 17 rebounds). However, if Jerian Grant can put up his same numbers (23 points, 6 boards, 12 assists) they will be in the game.

The fact that both of these teams like to run and score should mean that this matchup will be close, no matter the location. Duke does not have the greatest defense and that showed in the first meeting. It would not be outlandish to say that Notre Dame could shoot over 50% from the field again.

The main difference between these games could be the play of freshman Justise Winslow. He has been an incredibly inconsistent player this season and that was seen last week when he had two rebounds against a shorter Notre Dame team, but led Duke with 11 rebounds at Virginia. If Winslow can get involved into the game a little more, that would help against the Irish’s Pat Connaughton, who had 12 boards in the first meeting.

While Duke should get big games from their usual studs in Okafor, Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook, Notre Dame has a bigger question. Jerian Grant could have another big game, but who is going to step up? Zach Auguste played only 22 minutes in the first meeting because he could not defend Okafor. To sweep the Blue Devils, the Irish will need better defense from Auguste, but also something more from Demetrius Jackson or Steve Vasturia on the offensive end.

Notre Dame has lost only three games this year by a combined 11 points.

All in all, I think that the Devils put the pieces together to remain in the fray for the ACC regular season title.