No. 2 Duke regains its shooting touch to torch Notre Dame

Playing its second game in three days with its starting lineup restored, No. 2 Duke played comfortable and dominant Monday night.

The ACC’s worst 3-point shooting team, the Blue Devils hit four of their first six behind the arc to sprint to a 19-point first-half lead and roll to an 83-61 ACC win over Notre Dame at Purcell Pavilion.

Zion Williamson scored 26 points for the Blue Devils (18-2, 7-1 in ACC) while fellow freshman star RJ Barrett added 17 points and nine rebounds.

Just two days earlier against Georgia Tech, despite having its four freshman starters together for the first time in two weeks, Duke hit just 2 of 21 3-pointers and trailed by eight points in the second half before rallying to a 66-53 win.

That poor 3-point shooting left Duke with an ACC-worst 26.3 rate from behind the arc in league play.

Notre Dame employed a zone defense looking to exploit that weakness. But the Blue Devils shook off their shooting woes with ease to whip the last-place Irish (11-10, 1-7).

Duke hit 10 of 19 3-pointers (52.6 percent) while shooting 54.2 percent overall.

“We hit them hard to begin with, but not because they didn’t play well,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We just hit everything.”

Duke’s first basket of the game was a 3-pointer by freshman point guard Tre Jones, who started his second game in a row after missing two games with a right shoulder injury. Freshman forward Cam Reddish hit another as the Blue Devils jumped to a 6-0 lead.

While using less than 10 minutes to build a 26-7 lead, Duke made 10 of its first 13 shots overall, including 4 of 6 3-pointers.

Williamson showed off a variety of scoring moves during an 11-0 Duke run where he scored nine points.

The 6-7, 285-pound forward drove in the lane around Notre Dame defenders to score on a finger roll.

He took a pass from Barrett to score inside.

He took a pass behind the 3-point line and took two dribbles toward the basket before pausing. Left open, he drilled a 17-footer for a 12-2 Duke lead.

A Williamson spin move in the lane resulted in a basket that put Duke up 14-2.

Barrett added a pair of early 3-pointers, including one with 10:34 left until halftime that put Duke up 26-7.

At that point, Notre Dame had made just 3 of 16 shots and looked totally overmatched.

But the Irish scored on their next three possessions to get their offense going. When TJ Gibbs drove the lane to score with 4:49 left until halftime, Duke’s lead fell to single digits at 32-23.

Just as the Irish crowd grew loud, Duke silenced it again.

The Blue Devils reeled off 10 points in a row, a streak Williamson started with a 3-pointer.

Marques Bolden scored two baskets inside, including a slam dunk, and Barrett sank a jumper. When Williamson made one of two free throws with 2:12 left until halftime, the Blue Devils were back in control with a 42-25 lead.

Duke led 46-28 at intermission and pushed its lead to 21 points early in the second half.

Notre Dame shot 34.8 percent, hitting 8 of 24 3-pointers (33 percent).

In addition to his scoring, Williamson added nine rebounds, four blocked shots and four assists.

Reddish hit four 3-pointers and scored 13 points.

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.