It took time, but second-ranked Duke started to look whole again.
The Blue Devils will have a chance to put that on display again with Monday night's game against Notre Dame at the Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind.
Point guard Tre Jones returned Saturday after an absence of nearly three full games. The Blue Devils were overjoyed with his return to action after he suffered a separated shoulder less than two weeks earlier.
"Being able to be back out there with the guys, it meant a lot to me," Jones said after the Blue Devils overcame visiting Georgia Tech for a 66-53 victory Saturday.
Jones' presence is considered vital on the defensive end. With him on the court, the Blue Devils returned to more full-court pressure.
"With Tre out there, we finally feel we can play our defense again," said forward RJ Barrett.
Jones said he felt no physical issues after the game, so he should be ready Monday night despite a schedule calling for two games in three days.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Jones' commitment to the rehab process allowed him to return so soon to make such an impact. Jones logged 35 minutes, with six points and four assists.
"After the game, he felt (great) as well," Krzyzewski said. "We're moving on from that."
Duke (17-2, 6-1 ACC) will go into the Notre Dame game coming off its lowest team point total of the season.
Barrett took over some of the ball-handling duties when Jones was sidelined, but he hasn't lost his scoring touch. With 24 points in the Georgia Tech game, Barrett has 16 games with 20 or more points.
Barrett ranks first in ACC scoring at 23.9 points per game, and teammate Zion Williamson is second at 21.7. Williamson has at least nine field goals in four consecutive games, shooting a combined 42 of 61 in those games.
Duke did go most of the second half with only a couple of minutes of court time from center Marques Bolden, who is dealing with a toe ailment. Krzyzewski said the issue isn't considered serious, but it is painful.
Notre Dame is coming off a 27-point loss to Virginia on Saturday.
"We don't have much time to dwell on it with what's happening on Monday night in this league," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We've got to try to pick up and be more competitive on Monday."
Brey said the Irish need to regain a fighting spirit in short order.
"We need to get that back before these (Duke) guys come to town," Brey said. "After something like this, guys want to get it out of their system."
This is an incredible gauntlet for Notre Dame (11-9, 1-6), playing the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the country in a matter of three days.
The Irish's 82-55 home loss to No. 3 Cavaliers marked the team's fourth consecutive setback.
"That's men vs. boys, flat-out," Brey said. "Certainly very impressed with Virginia. They kind of took our spirit."
Notre Dame forward John Mooney has compiled six consecutive double-doubles for an ACC-high 12 this season. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds against Virginia.
Yet there hasn't been much to cheer about for Notre Dame during its 1/3 ACC home record. Another sellout crowd is likely to be on hand for Duke's visit.
"We're going to try to give them more to cheer about Monday if they come back," Brey said. "We don't want to give up on this year yet even though we're in a heck of a hole."
--Field Level Media
No. 2 Duke cranks up defense going to Notre Dame
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