WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For the first time since Jan. 23, Sean Obi entered a game for Duke. That pretty much says everything about how things went for the Blue Devils in their 84-79 ACC tournament quarterfinal loss to Notre Dame.
Mike Krzyzewski simply didn’t have any other choices, and the numbers crunch that has hung over the Blue Devils all season finally cost them.
No numbers: Krzyzewski’s propensity not to stockpile his roster has come back to bite him this season. With Amile Jefferson sidelined with a foot injury, the Blue Devils have been woefully thin all season, and in this game it really cost them. Marshall Plumlee, Chase Jeter and Brandon Ingram all were playing with four fouls in the second half.
The biggest whistle came against Ingram, his fourth, with 12:38 left in the game. It sent the freshman to the bench with Duke up 61-46. After a Matt Jones 3-pointer 1:19 later, the Blue Devils wouldn’t connect on another field goal for a full nine minutes, a drought more than long enough to allow the Irish to climb back into the game.
Out of gas: Losing Ingram hurt the Blue Devils in regulation, but in overtime they were clearly out of gas. Playing their second game in as many days -- and after fending off an NC State rally on Wednesday night -- Duke simply didn’t have anything left in the tank in OT. More than once Luke Kennard, Jones and Grayson Allen were bent over at the waist, clutching their shorts, clearly exhausted, and their shooting proved it. Duke scored just two field goals in the entire extra five minutes (the second a meaningless 3-pointer from Ingram at the buzzer).
Taking advantage With both Jeter and Plumlee, essentially the only Duke big guys, in foul trouble, the Irish wisely dumped it inside to Zach Auguste again and again. He finished with 19 points and 22 rebounds, leading a none-too-surprising Notre Dame points-in-the-paint edge of 38-24.
Don’t forget Beachem Lost in the shuffle of the Blue Devils’ collapse was the clutch shooting of V.J. Beachem. He scorched Duke for 19 points, including 4-of-7 from the arc, none bigger than the 3 he drained to bring Notre Dame all the way back and force OT.