Or maybe Duke is overrated? Jabari Parker certainly looked like someone not living up to the hype as the Notre Dame defense made him seem quite ordinary with double teams and zone defense, leading to his benching in the closing minutes, and the Fighting Irish beginning life in the ACC with a 79-77 upset win over the ranked Blue Devils.
It’s funny to think that Duke have been ranked for 122 consecutive weeks in the AP top 10, despite not really deserving that status. Notre Dame weren’t ranked going in to their first ACC game, but they’ve lost to big teams just like Duke. There’s no reason the Blue Devils, showing how limited they are in terms of ideas when their big star is out of the picture, should be ranked among the best in the nation.
Jabari Parker was limited to single-digit scoring for the first time of his short college career. He was only 2-of-10 from the field, scoring 7 points, and Mike Krzyzewski benched him during the final moments of the game, as Duke were trying to figure out the changing zone defense put up by the Fighting Irish, forcing Duke to become even more of a jump shooting team, something that’s really been exposed through their three losses this season.
It’s a historic day for us, our first ACC game. To beat a program like Duke’s will always be a great memory for us starting off in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Eric Atkins scored 19 points and added 11 assists, as Notre Dame made it a game about playing to the inside and being physical. Duke have a very thin front line, and that showed as they were outscored 44-16 in the paint, losing 39-30 in the rebounding department. They couldn’t find a way to help the posting up Parker, who himself began running plays that had nothing to do with what the bench was calling for. Quinn Cook (with 22 points) looked very frustrated with the star Freshman, who seemed slightly out of his depth.
Duke shot only 41.4% from the field (and 42.9% from beyond the arc) as the zone defense kept them shooting 3’s. Notre Dame didn’t mind Duke hitting their long range shots as long as they didn’t get a transition game going or finding their way in the paint. Rodney Hood led them with 27 points, but he ran into a brick wall with nine seconds to go, looking for a miracle, running out of floor before he was able to get a shot up.
Duke aren’t a bad team, but a flawed when, and when surverying the field in the ACC and the nation, they don’t seem like someone who right now should be considered among the national title contenders. Jabari Parker is an immense talent, but he has some growing up to do.
Notre Dame? Nonconference losses do mean there’s work to do, but this program belongs in the ACC, and isn’t going to have too many problems picking up a few more impressive wins, especially in South Bend, if they keep playing this kind of defense.