Notre Dame holds off Duke, advances to ACC title game

Greensboro, NC ( - Bonzie Colson scored 17 points, Demetrius Jackson added 15 and No. 11 Notre Dame held off No. 2 Duke 74-64 to reach the final of the ACC Tournament.

Duke had won 12 in a row since losing in South Bend on Jan. 28, but Notre Dame (28-5) jumped on top of the second-seeded Blue Devils early and held off a late surge to earn a title game matchup against North Carolina on Saturday.

Jerian Grant totaled 13 points and seven rebounds for the third-seeded Fighting Irish (28-5), who did not make it out of the opening round of their inaugural ACC tourney a year ago.

"I've never been more confident of a group," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "We're a fun group to be around, and we've got great karma about us right now at the right time of year."

Duke (29-4), the winningest team in this event, shot just 3-of-17 from 3-point range. Jahlil Okafor led the way offensively with 28 points, while Justise Winslow added 11 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.

Duke's talented guard trio of Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook and Matt Jones shot a combined 7-of-29 (24.1 percent) from the field.

When these teams met in Cameron Indoor Stadium last month, the Blue Devils avenged their loss to the Irish by blowing them out by 30.

The roles appeared reversed early on, as Duke had just as many turnovers (five) as points over the first eight-plus minutes. A Jackson three-point play gave the Irish an 18-5 cushion, and Notre Dame went into the break leading 41-26 thanks to a 53.1 percent shooting effort.

Okafor gave the Blue Devils a puncher's chance with 15 first-half points, but the rest of the Duke roster shot 25 percent (4-of-16) from the field.

"We weren't talking. We weren't doing anything. We weren't following instructions and it was like an out-of-body experience," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the slow start.

Notre Dame nearly blew an 18-point lead against Miami in the quarterfinals and almost did it again after a Jones 3-pointer pulled Duke within 68-64 with just over three minutes remaining.

Okafor had a chance to cut the deficit even further but missed two free throws, and Pat Connaughton followed with a clutch jumper from the foul line just with just over a minute remaining.

Free throws from Grant and Colson sealed the outcome.

Game Notes

The Irish have never previously reached a conference tourney final ... Notre Dame shot 50 percent from the field and outscored Duke at the free throw line 22-7 ... Duke has not won an ACC tourney title since 2011.