The Irish entered ranked No. 2 in offensive efficiency, according to Ken Pomeroy, and showed why early and often en route to shooting 50 percent from the field. Here are a few observations:
Tit for tat: There was a time when a young Mike Krzyzewski, still trying to make his mark in the ACC, once openly challenged officials about how they treated North Carolina’s Dean Smith better than every one else. Krzyzewski stated there were two sets of rules, one for Smith and another for the rest of the league’s coaches.
Some might argue that Krzyzewski now enjoys the same influence that Smith once had.
Through his actions, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey seemed to issue the same challenge during Saturday’s game. Brey, who was an assistant under Krzyzewski from 1987 to 1995, was upset with the way the game was officiated in the first half when the Irish were called for 12 personal fouls to the Blue Devils’ six and watched them shoot 14 free throws.
So, for the second half, it appeared nearly every time Krzyzewski spoke with officials between a timeout or during a dead ball situation, Brey was doing the same thing.
Irish suited for small ball: The Irish will be in a lot of games simply because of their ability to score. And when they can match up with a team going small like Duke, it makes them that much more effective because they don’t suffer as much on the defensive end.
Because Duke power forward Amile Jefferson is still out with a foot injury, the Blue Devils don’t have a traditional lineup. That allowed Notre Dame to go back to 6-foot-5 forward Bonzie Colson for extended minutes without him being exploited by bigger, physical players.
Matt Ryan, a 6-foot-8 forward, had started his second consecutive game in place of Colson because he is a better defender. The Irish needed Colson’s offensive scoring power to play with the Blue Devils, and the sophomore responded with a career-high 31 points.
Hurting in the frontcourt: Even when Jefferson rejoins the Blue Devils’ lineup, their margin of error will remain thin in the frontcourt. Rebounding will continue to be a challenge. With the game on the line, Duke couldn’t secure a rebound off a missed free throw by Demetrius Jackson.
Duke freshman Brandon Ingram spent his second straight game saddled with foul trouble. He picked up his fourth foul with 17:14 left in the game. Although he finished the game without fouling out, he was decisively more tentative -- he only had one rebound in the second half.
Because of the foul trouble Krzyzewski resorted to seldom-used Sean Obi, who had played just 16 total minutes this season, in the first half.