Duke’s loss to No. 2 Virginia on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium stung.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils thought they had a good shot at winning that game, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said on Monday. And they did. Duke briefly captured the lead with a little less than seven minutes left before the Cavaliers came back to win 65-63.
“You worry about hangover,” Krzyzewski said. “You’re still thinking about that, and that’s what we tried to address the last couple of days.”
Whatever was said to the players seemed to work, because on Monday against Notre Dame, just two days after the Virginia loss, there were no signs of a hangover. Duke led by double digits for most of its 88-66 win over the Irish. Notre Dame closed the gap to six points midway through the second half, before Duke went on an 18-0 run a few minutes later.
Against the Irish, Duke made changes, including cutting back on turnovers that limited Notre Dame’s points on turnovers.
Here are five more observations from the game:
1. Grayson Allen had his best game since Dec. 30
Nearly a month had gone by since Allen scored more than five field goals in a game. Against Florida State on Dec. 30, Allen went 8-for-19 and had 22 points and six assists. Allen did not shoot better than 46 percent in a game during that span.
Allen has shown signs of getting back into a rhythm, including a 16-point performance against Pitt on Jan. 20, and scoring 17 points against Wake Forest on Jan. 23. But his numbers dropped in the following game against Virginia, when he scored five points and was 2-for-8 from the floor.
On Monday against Notre Dame, Allen was back on his game. He finished with 18 points (7-for-12) and 8 assists. When freshman point guard Trevon Duval had to exit the game midway through the second half because of foul trouble, Allen ran the point guard position, and continued to lead Duke on its big 18-0 run.
“I thought Grayson – that was his best game for a while,” Krzyzewski said. “Not just scoring, but his presence out there.”
2. Duke got production from his bench.
Duke’s bench gave it some big minutes on Monday. Particularly when Duval and freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. left the game due to foul trouble. The reserves, who replaced them – sophomore forward Jack White and sophomore center Marques Bolden – didn’t miss a beat.
White was was a crucial part of that 18-0 run.
He came down with some strong rebounds, finishing the game with seven. He also had five points – and hit a big 3-pointer – in 14 minutes of play. After the game, members of the media surrounded him for an interview. White, who is from Australia and has a thick accent, said he had a lot of adrenaline from the crowd and his teammates.
“I was just trying to play off instincts, play hard, and have fun, and I was fortunate to have some plays go my way,” White said. “I just kept trying to feed off that.”
Bolden, who was returning from an MCL sprain that had kept him out the previous seven games, played in 12 minutes and had three rebounds.
3. During Duke’s 18-0 run, Notre Dame missed eight straight field goals
Duke played good defense, forcing the Fighting Irish to take some tough shots. For the game, Notre Dame shot 36 percent from the floor overall, and 28 percent from behind the 3-point line.
The Fighting Irish missed plenty of shots throughout the game; however, they were able to corral their missed shots and score on second chance points.
4. Gary Trent Jr. has found shooting stroke again
Trent had an off night against Virginia, scoring only 8 points and going 1-for-5 from behind the 3-point line. Before that, Trent had been efficient, especially from 3.
In the 11 games before last Saturday’s matchup with Virginia, Trent was 38-for-71 from behind the arc. Against Notre Dame, Trent returned to his shooting ways, going 6-for-10 from behind the 3-point line against and finishing with a team-high 22 points.
“I just wanted to come aggressive, shoot my shots, and play my game,” Trent said. “On Saturday I didn’t shoot the ball well at all, so I just wanted to bounce back and reassure myself and just keep playing.”
5. Even when Marvin Bagley III wasn’t great, Duke was still good
You know you’re talented when you can score 12 points and have 8 rebounds and call it an “off night.” Freshman forward Marvin Bagley III, a double-double machine who had 30 points and 14 rebounds against Virginia, had and off night (for him) against Notre Dame. He was 4-for-14 from the floor, and missed some close shots and some put backs.
He made up for it on the defensive end with three blocks and two steals.
Still, his teammates picked up the slack on offense. Allen came back to form, Trent had another big performance and Carter put up 17 points.