The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-5, 3-2) have been treading water these last few weeks, struggling to consistently stay in the win column. As a result, the Irish have moved firmly into the bubble conversation.
For now, that changed in a big way after the Irish went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knocked off the 9th-ranked Duke Blue Devils (14-4, 3-2) in a high-scoring, 95-91 contest. The win marks Irish head coach Mike Brey's 4th win in 5 tries against his former boss since Notre Dame joined the ACC.
Notre Dame spotted Duke 8 points right off the bat, giving Irish fans nightmares of last Saturday's loss against Pitt. But much like in that one, the Irish kept battling, keeping the game within 5 at halftime and quickly taking the lead in the second half.
The Irish retained that lead for most of the way, until a Grayson Allen lay-up allowed Duke to retake the lead with just a couple minutes remaining. But Notre Dame held strong, led by key plays from Bonzie Colson, Demetrius Jackson, and ultimately Zach Auguste to close out a road victory.
Colson led the Irish with a career-high 31 points on an unreal 12 of 19 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. Steve Vasturia was also huge with 22 points on 8 of 16, including 4 of 6 behind the arc.
As always, however, Demetrius Jackson really ran the show and turned around a poor night from the floor Wednesday into a masterful 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting this afternoon. Another mention, for as poor as he shot around the basket, goes to Zach Auguste and his game-high 14 rebounds, none bigger than on Jackson's missed free throw to close out the game.
Luke Kennard was ridiculous for the Blue Devils, going off for 30 points, but the Irish and specifically Rex Pflueger forced him into some frustrating turnovers down the stretch. Fellow freshman Brandon Ingram was also terrific with 25 points while battling foul trouble.
It was an unlikely recipe for Notre Dame, with offensive boards and points in the paint carrying them in this one as Duke shot lights out from three. Still, the Irish battled and gritted their way to an incredible 95-point effort and an even more incredible road victory at a time when they really needed it.
We'll have plenty more on this huge, huge victory, which is one of the most well-coached games from Mike Brey that I can remember.