Duke has been upset by an unranked ACC opponent for the second straight game after Notre Dame stunned the Blue Devils, 95-91, in an offensive shootout at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The defending national champions were coming off a 68-63 loss against Clemson on Wednesday, their first conference loss of the season.
Duke's offense was mostly Luke Kennard (30 points), Brandon Ingram (25) and Grayson Allen (18). No one else reached double figures.
The Fighting Irish rode an 11-1 run to start the second half after going into the break down 50-45 to capture their first win over a ranked opponent this season.
Notre Dame got stellar performances from its own offensive trio. Demetrius Jackson, Bonzie Colson and Steve Vasturia were on fire in the victory, combining for 77 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists.
Even though unranked Notre Dame's win will go down as an upset over ninth-ranked Duke, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports noted this has become an annual occurrence:
Notre Dame has now beaten Duke for the third straight year. That's the type of win that will get the Irish into the NCAA tournament.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 16, 2016
Colson, in particular, was fantastic for the Irish. He led the way with 31 points and added 11 rebounds. Per Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune, Colson's scoring output was one for the Notre Dame record books:
Zach Auguste was a monster on the glass for the Irish, recording 14 rebounds to go along with nine points. His biggest play was an offensive rebound with four seconds remaining after Jackson missed the front end of a one-and-one that would have put Notre Dame up by three points.
Jackson's performance wasn't a huge surprise, with ESPN's Jay Bilas noting before the game that he's been one of the ACC's best offensive weapons this season:
Demetrius Jackson of @NDmbb: 17 points and 5.4 assists. 1 of 2 players (NC State's Cat Barber) in ACC Top 5 in scoring and assists.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) January 16, 2016
Rex Pflueger played a huge role in the Irish's victory. Notre Dame was clinging to an 83-80 lead with just over three minutes left, and as the shot clock was winding down, the freshman star drilled a three to increase the Irish's lead to six.
Pflueger entered the game having scored a total of 12 points, but he finished Saturday's upset win with seven points, including that critical three-pointer.
Duke did battle back with five straight points, including a three-pointer from Allen with just over two minutes to play to cut the lead to one. Jackson turned the ball over on Notre Dame's next possession, dribbling the ball off Auguste's foot on an attempted screen to give Duke a chance to take the lead.
Allen scored for the Blue Devils to give them an 87-86 lead, but Jackson responded on the ensuing possession with a pull-up shot from the free-throw line to give Notre Dame the lead back with one minute remaining.
Following two free throws from Allen to give Duke the lead again, Colson took a pass from Jackson in the lane and hit a layup as he was fouled to give Notre Dame a two-point lead with 35 seconds remaining.
Duke attempted to retake the lead, but Matt Jones' three-point attempt didn't fall. Notre Dame grabbed the rebound, with Jackson hitting both of his free-throw attempts to give his team a four-point lead.
That would seal Duke's fate, though Jordan Honeycutt of the New Bern Sun Journal pointed out the Blue Devils have been in this position before:
Blue Devils hitting a rough patch in conference schedule. Lost back to back to inferior teams last year - that turned out all right.— Jordan Honeycutt (@JHONEY_32) January 16, 2016
Close games have not been kind to Notre Dame so far this season, with four of its five losses coming by a combined 14 points. The Irish did come close to blowing another game late Saturday, but their playmakers stepped up when they needed to and provided a win that should serve as a springboard for the rest of the year.
On the other side, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is left searching for answers. His team has been inconsistent in its last two games and has already struggled in losses to Kentucky and Utah, so the Blue Devils need to figure out what's going on quickly before Monday's showdown against Syracuse.
According to the David Glenn Show on Twitter, Krzyzewski gave a lot of credit to Notre Dame's experienced roster, including juniors Vasturia and Jackson:
K on ND: good talent is what everyone wants. Good, experienced talent is even better...for a lot of reasons.— David Glenn Show (@DavidGlennShow) January 16, 2016
Coach K specifically cited Jackson's "control of the game....not many can do it."
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey also praised the way Jackson handled the stage:
Brey: I thought Demetrius Jackson "called" a really good game tonight. He quarterbacked the team well.— David Glenn Show (@DavidGlennShow) January 16, 2016