Let’s go back to January 28, shall we? Notre Dame comes from behind at home to beat the Blue Devils. It was Duke’s third conference loss in the month of January. But since then, the Blue Devils have looked like experienced upperclassmen rather than wet-footed underclassmen in a very deep ACC, especially at the top of the conference.
Duke rallied past ACC-leading Virginia, handing the Cavaliers their first loss of the season, and looked to continue its momentum against highly-ranked Notre Dame in a rematch. Notre Dame came into the game Saturday as the best scoring team in the ACC while the Blue Devils were second but struggled to be consistent on the defensive end. The game started out with a 6-0 run by Notre Dame and then … Duke happened.
Showing its consistency on both ends of the floor, Duke went on a 45-7 run and shot 81 percent from the field in the first half. The Blue Devils shot 60 percent from behind the arc and made the Irish look like a junior varsity team. Duke ended up winning 90-60. It was Notre Dame’s worst loss since 1999 as the team shot below 40 percent from the field and the free-throw line.
Jahlil Okafor continued to show why he is a lock to be picked first in the NBA Draft. Okafor scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds. This was Okafor’s 23rd straight game scoring in double figures. Sophomore Matt Jones had a breakout game adding 17 points off the bench and freshman Justice Winslow had a monster game with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
On Monday night, it wasn’t as emphatic of a win, but Duke did what good teams do – it found a way to win the game. Despite allowing Florida State to come within a point with under a minute to play in regulation, the Blue Devils made free throws when it counted (and Florida State managed to make intentionally missing free throws look terrible) to hold on for a 73-70 win in Tallahassee.
As it heads into the home stretch, Duke once again looks like it is poised to take hold of one of those coveted top lines in the NCAA Tournament bracket.