Duke is heading to the NCAA tournament on shaky footing.
The defending national champion is still dangerous, still capable of a deep run in the bracket and maybe even capable of more, but coach Mike Krzyzewski is going to have to find some answers to the problems in the post that have cost his team games when the 3-pointers aren't falling.
It happened again Thursday with Notre Dame storming back from a 16-point second-half deficit to force overtime and then win 84-79 to push the Blue Devils out the ACC tournament for the second straight year. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is now 5-1 against his mentor, coach K.
... in our locker room after beating Duke in the ACC tourney for the 2nd straight year. pic.twitter.com/8sXeLgVXfT
— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) March 10, 2016
Maybe a few extra days of practice and an opportunity to evaluate will be a gift for the legendary coach and his team. The Blue Devils haven't won consecutive games in three weeks and are much too reliant on perimeter shooting, especially when senior Marshall Plumlee gets in foul trouble like he did Thursday. Duke went 11-for-36 behind the 3-point line.
It's not often you see a Duke team go more than seven minutes without scoring, but that is what happened against Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish took advantage, getting back in the game.
Notre Dame senior Zach Auguste dominated around the basket, scoring 19 points and collecting a lot of those missed Duke shots to the tune of 22 rebounds, one shy of the ACC tournament record. All five Notre Dame starters scored in double figures playing at least 35 minutes each. Duke wasn't the only team with a limited roster in this one. The Fighting Irish have battled depth problems this year, too.
[Four teams opponents should want in their section of the bracket]
But Notre Dame is at its best when it isn't relying on point guard Demetrius Jackson or Auguste too much and Thursday fellow starters V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia played well, particularly after halftime. Beachem scored 19 points and Vasturia scored 12 with six assists.
A day after overcoming a broken nose to post a double-double and score the game-winning basket against NC State, Plumlee scored just two points and grabbed four rebounds in 24 minutes. Allen led Duke with 27 points, but he needed 21 shots to get them.
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