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Takeaways from No. 21 Duke’s win at No. 20 Notre Dame

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Duke’s had more than its share of problems this season, but the Blue Devils haven’t struggled to win on the road in recent days.

Twenty-first ranked Duke downed No. 20 Notre Dame, 84-74, on Monday in South Bend to notch its second road win in 48 hours.

Grayson Allen had a game-high 21 points for Duke while Jayson Tatum impressed with 19 points on 14 shots and with 14 rebounds. Luke Kennard added 16 points.

Notre Dame got 20 points from VJ Beachem and another 17 from Bonzie Colson. Notre Dame, one of the country’s top 3-point shooting teams, was 7 of 21 from distance.

Here’s what you need to know about Monday’s game:

1. Duke’s rotation looks to be rounding into shape: All five Duke starters played at least 31 minutes, and that number very may well have been higher if Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard wouldn’t have found themselves in foul trouble and eventually disqualified.

The Blue Devils have gone with the same starting five the last two games with Jefferson at center and Jayson Tatum at the four. Tatum was largely a spectator over the weekend when Luke Kennard went crazy, but he had 19 points (on 8 of 14 shooting) and 14 rebounds in 37 minutes. Meanwhile, Marques Bolden, who started a week ago, did not play against the Irish after seeing just three minutes in Duke’s win over Wake Forest over the weekend. Harry Giles also only logged nine minutes, with four of them coming after Jefferson fouled out.

It’s not to say Duke has found its formula and all is now right in Durham, but the Blue Devils had balanced scoring and solid defense while leaning on its starting five. Those five are likely going to be good enough to win Duke quite a few games, but if Giles and Bolden can just provide some sort of boost as well, that could move the Blue Devils closer to the ceiling everyone saw for them at the start of the season.

2. Have the Irish been solved?: Notre Dame has now dropped three straight, and have failed to score more than 1.06 points-per-possession in any of those losses. That’s particularly problematic for a team that relies on its well-oiled offense to counteract a so-so defense. There doesn’t appear to be a  straightforward formula as Notre Dame struggled to score inside against Duke and Georgia Tech (48.6 and 40.0 percent on 2-pointers, respectively) and from deep against Virginia (16.7 percent).

Is it a fluke, minor blip or something more sinister? It’s difficult to say after just three games, but it’s happen both at home and on the road and certainly something worth monitoring, starting Saturday at North Carolina.

3. Jayson Tatum continues to impress, but the turnover rate continues to be an issue: One of the enduring images of this season will be Dennis Smith, Jr. soaring to a dunk as the buzzer sounded in NC State’s win against Duke. Well, that came to be after a Jayson Tatum turnover, something that happens with pretty solid regularity.

Against Notre Dame, he turned it over five times, a mark on an otherwise super-efficient night in which he scored 19 points on 14 shots, not to mention pulling down 14 boards and being instrumental in the win. He’s turned it over three or more times in eight of the 14 games he’s played, good for a turnover percentage of 19.4 percent. That’s a problematic number for a guy with the highest usage rate on the team.

Tatum has no doubt been one of Duke’s best players and is cementing his place near the top of the lottery in  June’s NBA draft, but securing the ball just a little bit better would go a long way.

4. Notre Dame’s free-throw shooting has been bizarre: The offense’s shooting from the floor was documented above, but the Irish’s issues extend to the free-throw line as well during this losing streak. Notre Dame currently ranks second in the country with a team free-throw percentage of 80.2.

In these past three losses, Notre Dame is shooting just 66 percent on 56 attempts, including a 19 of 28 performance against the Blue Devils. The Irish don’t often get to the line a ton, but when they do, they need to convert at a high clip, especially when the rest of the offense is finding problems.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.