The No. 7 Blue Devils dropped their opening ACC game of the year for the first time in seven seasons, losing on the road to Notre Dame by a score of 79-77. The conference game was also Notre Dame's first as a member of the ACC.
The Fighting Irish owned the post against Duke scoring 22 first half points in the paint and outrebounding the Blue Devils 39-30. Numerous breakdowns on defense haunted Duke for the entire game. Despite a solid offensive output, devoid of Jabari Parker, Duke was not able to pull out the win against a resilient Notre Dame squad. The game was by far Parker's worst as a collegiate player. The freshman managed just 7 points on 2-10 shooting. His only points of the second half came on a couple of free throws with 7:18 left in the game. Parker played only 24 minutes and was on the bench in the deciding minutes of the second half.
Rodney Hood led the way for Duke with 27 points, but turned the ball over on a drive that would have tied the game with 9 seconds left. The turnover may have been Hood's only misstep on the day. The sophomore wing hit 5-10 three pointers on the day and combined with Quinn Cook to shoulder the scoring load for Duke with Parker ineffective. Cook finished with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 three pointers of his own.
Duke led 37-35 at halftime and used 11 straight points from Rodney Hood to go on a 9-0 second half run to build a 49-40 lead with 15:19 to play. After trading baskets over the next couple of minutes, Notre Dame took over the game with a 20-4 run leading into the under 4 minute T.V. timeout. Eric Atkins scored 7 of his team high 19 points during the run for the Irish.
Duke was able to build a lead with hot three point shooting, hitting 12 of their first 22 attempts from behind the arc. But the Blue Devils missed their last 6 attempts for three and were unable to keep pace with Notre Dame. Duke hit free throws down the stretch to stay within a possession, but could not create a play when it counted the most.
The loss came as a surprise to many. Notre Dame had dismissed star player and preseason first team All-ACC member Jerian Grant for academic issues last semester. The Irish didn't seem to miss Grant's team leading 19 points and 6.2 assists per game.
Mike Brey, once an assistant to Coach K at Duke, became the first of Krzyzewski's former assistants to earn a victory over him. The Irish improved to 10-4 on the season with a 1-0 record in the ACC.
Duke became the fourth Top 20 team to lose Saturday afternoon. Oklahoma State, Memphis, and UCONN also lost to unranked opponents.
The loss puts Duke's streak of 122 straight weeks in the AP Top Ten in danger. The Blue Devils fall to 11-3 on the season, 0-1 in the conference. Duke will return to action at home on Tuesday, January 7, against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets lost their ACC opener against Maryland on Saturday.