Trending in a positive direction not that long ago, Duke and Notre Dame might seem to be back in desperation mode when they meet Tuesday in Durham, N.C.
“We just have to keep playing,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team has lost two games in a row. “I don’t have a long-term goal. My goal is to get ready for Notre Dame now.”
Duke lost at home to North Carolina 91-87 Saturday, which followed a two-point loss at Miami. The Blue Devils (7-7, 5-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) have five of their last seven games.
“We’ve just got to keep working,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s a good group of kids. I feel bad for them. This would have been a heckuva win for these guys.”
Notre Dame has won four of six games and scored 50 first-half points Saturday night at Georgia Tech before losing 82-80.
For the Irish (7-10, 4-7), it’s no time for self-pity. Coach Mike Brey said he’s counting on a good response from the players.
“It’s up to them,” Brey said. “We’ve got a nice group of kids. I’ve got no speeches for them. Let’s see how they do circling back and see how they play Tuesday.”
Duke will seek a bounce-back from forward Matthew Hurt, who was held to a season-low seven points before fouling out against North Carolina in only 21 minutes of action. That forced the Blue Devils to make adjustments.
“We’ve tried a bunch of different lineups throughout the season and (looked for) whatever lineup is working,” Duke guard Jordan Goldwire said. “The ‘small ball’ (lineup), it worked for us and that was good for us.”
Krzyzewski said he was encouraged by the team’s ball movement on offense that helped result in 23 assists.
Notre Dame had a 15-point lead at halftime against Georgia Tech, but that evaporated quickly along with the good feelings from the biggest first-half scoring output the Irish have ever had in an ACC game.
“We get another chance on the road on Tuesday,” Brey said.
The Irish stayed on the road, going from Atlanta to Durham instead of returning home between games.
The Irish will need strong outings from interior players against Duke, Brey said. There’s also bound to be an emphasis on coping with defensive pressure after Georgia Tech seemed to rattle Notre Dame — and Duke might be prone to try to repeat that.
“We really haven’t played against a team that pressed us,” Brey said. “I think that really got us on our heels a little bit.”
Duke opened ACC play by winning 75-65 at Notre Dame on Dec. 16. Hurt led Duke with 18 points in that game, while Dane Goodwin poured in 25 points for Notre Dame.
–Field Level Media