College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, January 4, 2014
Duke's Rodney Hood scored a game-high 27 points and Quinn Cook added 22, but Eric Atkins led Notre Dame with 19 points and 11 assists as the Fighting Irish knocked off #7 Duke, Saturday at South Bend, Indiana.
The game was the first for Notre Dame as a member of the ACC, the conference long dominated by the Blue Devils and Tar Heels of North Carolina, and the Irish proved worthy, taking the lead at 65-64 with 5:31 left on an Atkins free throw and clinging to the slim lead down the stretch for the 79-77 victory.
The Irish led by as many as six points in the late stages of the game, but Duke continued to claw back, cutting the lead to one on several occasions, but with 1:23 left, Atkins scored on a layup to put Notre Dame ahead, 74-71, and, after a pair of Quinn Cook free throws, assisted on a jumper by Garrick Sherman, again putting the Irish up by three.
Atkins, a 6'2" senior guard from Columbia, MD, played 38 minutes for the Irish, hitting seven of 13 shots from the field and five of eight from the foul line. More important than his scoring was his deft ball-handling, as he assisted on 11 Notre Dame baskets.
Normally, it's Duke which shares the ball better, but Atkins helped Notre Dame lead the Blue Devils in assists, 18-8. The Irish defense was also central to the win, blocking six Duke shots and out-rebounding the visitors, 39-30. Notre Dame also out-shot Duke, 53-41%.
Duke fell to 11-3 while Notre Dame improved to 10-4. The Irish continue ACC play with a visit from NC State on Tuesday, January 7.