SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Playing on the road for the first time in their collegiate careers did not rattle Duke’s talented freshmen. They were looking forward to it.
“It was great, just getting to see different scenery, getting to see some snow out here,” DJ Steward said after scoring 16 points and grabbing a team-high seven rebounds to help the 21st-ranked Blue Devils beat Notre Dame 75-65 Wednesday night.
“I’m used to the snow,” added Steward, a Chicago native, “but a lot of our guys aren’t.”
Even the atmosphere inside the arena caught Steward’s attention. While the Fighting Irish are allowing a light smattering of family and friends to attend games during the pandemic, Duke hasn’t been permitting any outsiders back home at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“You can kind of feel the energy a little bit,” Steward said of the contrast.
With sophomore Matthew Hurt scoring 18 points, and freshmen Jeremy Roach and Jaemyn Brakefield adding 12 and 10, respectively, the Blue Devils (3-2, 1-0) won their Atlantic Coast Conference opener convincingly.
“We’re ecstatic about the win,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “(Notre Dame coach Mike Brey’s) team is a very difficult team to defend. They have all these shooters and he’s one of the best in teaching offense, and they’re a veteran team, so for our guys to beat them, we feel great about it.”
Dane Goodwin scored 25 points for the Irish (2-3, 0-1), hitting 10 of 12 shots from the field with four 3-pointers. Prentiss Hubb added 12 points.
“I was disappointed in our defensive positioning most of the night,” Brey said after the Blue Devils shot 52% from the field and 8 of 15 from 3-point range. “I thought we could sit down in a stance better, and we never did that enough to really make it interesting.”
Except for a 2-all tie, the methodically effective Blue Devils led throughout.
Notre Dame got as close in the second half as 55-50 with 10:42 to go, but Duke responded with a 9-0 spurt and later pushed its lead to 73-56 with 4:38 remaining.
The Blue Devils outscored the Irish 34-20 in the paint, outrebounded them 33-23, showing few ill effects one day after announcing that highly regarded freshman Jalen Johnson (11.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game) will be out indefinitely due to a foot injury.
Krzyzewski said Johnson will miss at least two to three weeks and maybe more.
“He has a foot problem that I’m not going to say exactly what it is,” Krzyzewski said, “but he’s in a boot. He’ll be re-evaluated in two to three weeks, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be back in two to three weeks.”
The Blue Devils are off until hosting Pittsburgh on Dec. 29. With two other games in the window canceled, Notre Dame represented Duke’s only contest over a span of 20 days.
SMU 70, East Carolina 55
DALLAS — Feron Hunt recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds to lift SMU to a 70-55 win over East Carolina in a clash of unbeatens on Wednesday night.
It was the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Kendric Davis had 17 points and six assists for SMU (5-0, 1-0). Darius McNeill added 13 points. Ethan Chargois had nine rebounds.
Leading 30-28 at halftime, SMU opened the second half on a 17-6 run over nearly nine minutes to take control.
Jayden Gardner had 13 points for the Pirates (5-1, 0-1). Bitumba Baruti added 11 points.
Chattanooga 69, UNC Asheville 66
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — KC Hankton had 16 points off the bench to carry Chattanooga to a 69-66 win over UNC Asheville on Wednesday night, the Mocs’ seventh straight victory to start the season.
Malachi Smith had 15 points and nine rebounds for Chattanooga (7-0). Trey Doomes added 14 points and six rebounds. Jamaal Walker had 10 points.
LJ Thorpe had 14 points for the Bulldogs (3-3). Tajion Jones added 13 points. Trent Stephney had 11 points.
Chattanooga matches up against UAB on the road on Saturday. UNC Asheville takes on Marshall on the road on Tuesday.
Elon 66, Campbell 56
ELON — Hunter McIntosh had 23 points as Elon beat Campbell 66-56 on Wednesday.
Kris Wooten and Jerald Gillens-Butler added 12 points apiece for Elon (3-0). Hunter Woods had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Jordan Whitfield had 14 points for the Fighting Camels (4-1). Cedric Henderson Jr. added 12 points and Gediminas Mokseckas had 10 points.