Freshmen Banchero and Griffin lead No. 9 Duke rout of Irish

Published 11:55 pm Monday, January 31, 2022

By John Fineran
Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Freshman Paolo Banchero scored 21 points, fellow classmate A.J. Griffin added 13 and each had a team-high nine rebounds as No. 9 Duke handed Notre Dame its first home loss of the season in a 57-43 Atlantic Coast Conference rout Monday night.

The Blue Devils (18-3, 8-2 ACC) pulled into a first-place tie with idle Miami with their fourth straight victory for coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is retiring at the conclusion of the season and was making his final appearance at the sold out Purcell Pavilion against his former protégé, Mike Brey. Notre Dame, which entered the game 9-0 at home this season with victories over Kentucky and North Carolina (14-7, 7-3), saw its four-game winning streak end.

Grad transfer Paul Atkinson Jr. was the only Irish player in double figures with 14 points and had nine rebounds. Leading scorers Blake Wesley and Dane Goodwin, who were each averaging 15 points or more this season, were held to six and zero points. Goodwin, who had scored at least one point in 86 straight games, had entered the game with 20 double-digit scoring efforts this season.

The Blue Devils, who shot 39.4 percent, outrebounded the smaller Irish 51-36 with the 6-foot-10 Banchero, the 6-6 Griffin and 6-9 Theo John each having nine and 7-1 Mark Williams adding eight. The height advantage also contributed to Notre Dame’s 27.9% shooting (17 of 61) effort.

The game was the makeup of a Jan. 1 game postponed by COVID concerns in the Duke program, and Notre Dame led just once at 2-0.

The Blue Devils scored the next seven points and gradually increased their lead against the poor-shooting Irish (18.8%). Notre Dame closed the deficit to four, 18-14, on a pair of Atkinson dunks off Prentiss Hubbs feeds with 4:47 remaining in the half. But Duke finished on a 9-0 run to lead at halftime 27-14.

Duke doubled the score to 40-20 on a Banchero dunk with 14:42 to play and was in control the rest of the way.

Big picture

Duke: The Blue Devils opened a 13-point halftime lead, 27-14, despite shooting just 37.5 percent (12 of 32) from the field. That’s because Duke outrebounded the Irish 29-19 behind seven rebounds by John and six by Banchero, who had seven points in the first half.

Notre Dame: Brey’s Irish looked anything but like a second-place ACC team, shooting 18.8 percent in the first half and being outrebounded 29-19 by the taller Blue Devils. Notre Dame’s leading scorers Dane Goodwin and freshman Blake Wesley had just four points, all by Wesley, and combined to shoot 2-of-15 including 0-for-3 from 3-point range where Notre Dame was 0 for 8.

Poll implications

Duke remained No. 9 in the weekly Associated Press Top 25 poll released earlier Monday, the only ACC team ranked. Miami and Notre Dame were among the other schools receiving votes.

Coach K farewell tour

Brey, who was a Duke assistant under Krzyzewski from 1987-1985, including the 1991 and ’92 teams that won the first of his five NCAA titles, saluted his former boss during a halftime video. The game was a sellout – Notre Dame’s first home sellout since Duke visited here in 2019 with freshman sensation Zion Williamson and won handily, 83-61. Among those in the crowd of 9,149 was former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps, who is second to Brey on the all-time wins list for men’s basketball, and football pro and college Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, who has returned to campus 20 years after his final season to finish his undergraduate degree and sat in the student section.

Up next

Duke: After playing its third game in the last seven days, the Blue Devils ends a three-game road swing Saturday at North Carolina.

Notre Dame: In the midst of a five-game stretch over 11 days, the Irish travel to ACC first-place Miami on Wednesday.