The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team fell to 2-3 on the season this evening, losing their ACC opener at home to the #21 Duke Blue Devils by a final score of 75 to 65.
The big story heading into the game was the expected news that finally, officially broke, as all D-1 transfers were officially granted eligibility this season to help teams have as much depth as possible during this COVID-ridden time. For Irish fans worried about Notre Dame’s lack of depth so far this year, that came as VERY welcome news.
The Division I Council decided to grant waivers to allow DI transfer student-athletes in all sports to compete immediately this year.— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) December 16, 2020
That means one thing: @_TDub3 time #GoIrish pic.twitter.com/pK2N4on9EU
With that said, it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Trey Wertz — coming off the bench in his first game for the Irish — clearly will need some time to ramp up and become a major contributor for this squad after missing the first four games. He did manage to finish with 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist, doing some solid offensive work in the second half especially, with some of that coming late in the game when the score was no longer in doubt.
The Blue Devils’ victory was driven by the play of sophomore forward Matt Hurt, who scored 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting while pulling down 5 rebounds. Frosh guard D.J. Steward played a really nice game as well, scoring 16 points while grabbing 7 rebounds and snagging himself 2 steals for good measure. Jeremy Roach (14 points) and Jaemyn Brakefield (10 points, 5 rebounds) turned in solid games as well.
Duke shot 53% from the field and 53% from deep — at least partially due to Notre Dame’s hapless defensive effort, as the Irish could not keep Duke out of the paint and surrendered a number of very open looks. The Blue Devils also out-rebounded the Irish 33 to 23 despite missing star freshman forward Jalen Johnson, the team’s co-leader in rebounding who’s averaged 8.3 boards per game this year.
The Irish were paced in scoring by Dane Goodwin, who finished with 25 points on a scorching-hot 10-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three-point land.
Prentiss Hubb (12 points, 3 assists) and Nate Laszewski (7 points, 8 rebounds) contributed as well, while the rest of the Irish team shot 6-of-22 from the field (27%), providing very little support offensively. Overall, Notre Dame shot 46% from the floor and 40% from long range, and once again lost the turnover battle while playing uncharacteristically sloppy basketball for a Mike Brey squad.
The Irish will now head down to Indianapolis to face the Purdue Boilermakers in the Crossroads Classic. Purdue took down the #20 Ohio State Buckeyes this evening, so it will be yet another difficult early-season test for a slightly deeper Irish squad who’s still clearly trying to find its footing and compete against good teams. Here’s to hoping they figure that out, and fast.