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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Notre Dame sent quite the message in its Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball debut.

Eric Atkins scored 19 points, Pat Connaughton had 16 and the Fighting Irish upset seventh-ranked Duke 79-77 on Saturday.

The victory comes in the wake of leading scorer Jerian Grant’s dismissal from school two weeks earlier for an academic violation and provides a confidence boost as Notre Dame begins play in its new conference.

“It’s really important for our group, given the two weeks we’ve had, to feel like, ‘Hey, we may still have a shot at this thing.’ Because nobody else thought we had a shot,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, a former Duke assistant coach.

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Atkins scored seven points during a decisive 20-4 run as Notre Dame rallied from a 10-point deficit and held on to win two weeks after squandering an eight-point lead in the final 50 seconds against No. 3 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“It definitely gives us a lot of life. Everybody’s confidence is up now, winning such a big game,” Atkins said.

The Irish (10-4 overall, 1-0 ACC) improved to 13-6 against top-10 teams at home under Brey. It was the first loss in an ACC opener for the Blue Devils (11-3, 0-1) in seven seasons.

Rodney Hood, who led the Blue Devils with 27 points, said Duke played like an immature team, allowing Notre Dame to hold the ball for long periods and then score as the shot clock ticked down.

“When we needed a stop, we didn’t get a stop,” Hood said. “We had some balls go in and out, but I can name at least 10 plays where it was a breaking point and we didn’t pull it off.”

Duke used a 9-0 run to open a 49-40 lead early in the second half and stretched the lead to 60-50 when Andre Dawkins made a three from the top of the key.

But when Notre Dame went to a small lineup to try to guard the Blue Devils better from behind the arc, Demetrius Jackson made a three to spark the 20-4 run.

Atkins tied the score on a layup, and then followed with another basket inside on a pass.

Steve Vasturia, who wasn’t getting much playing time before Grant was dismissed, made a three-pointer to give the Irish a 68-64 lead after Duke freshman Jabari Parker, who was 2 for 10 from the field, badly missed a three.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski blamed the loss on Duke’s defense.

“We just stopped playing the defense that we were playing,” he said.

Quinn Cook had 22 points for the Blue Devils.

Other Top 10 men

At No. 2 Syracuse 49, Miami 44

C.J. Fair scored 15 points, including the go-ahead basket with 4:16 to go, and the Orange (14-0, 1-0) beat the Hurricanes (8-6, 0-2) in its ACC debut.

Defending conference champion Miami trailed by four points at halftime but started the second half with a 14-4 run.

At No. 3 Ohio St. 84, Nebraska 53

Amedeo Della Valle had 15 points on 5-for-5 shooting to help the Buckeyes (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten) rout the Cornhuskers (8-6, 0-2).

No. 5 Michigan St. 73, at Indiana 56

Gary Harris scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half as the Spartans (13-1, 2-0 Big Ten) cruised past the Hoosiers (10-5, 0-2).

Yogi Ferrell led Indiana with 17 points.

At Kansas St. 74, No. 6 Oklahoma St. 71

Marcus Foster scored 17 points and Nino Williams made two free throws with 5.7 seconds left as the Wildcats (11-3, 1-0 Big 12) edged the Cowboys (12-2, 0-1).

Le’Bryan Nash led Oklahoma State with 20 points.

Pac-12 men

At Utah 80, Oregon St. 69

Brandon Taylor scored 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting and had eight assists to lead the Utes (12-2, 1-1 Pac-12) past the Beavers (8-6, 0-2). Utah shot 58 percent.

Roberto Nelson scored 16 points for Oregon State and Hallice Cooke had 14.

Other men

At Idaho St. 83,Eastern Washington 72

Andre Hatchett scored 27 points and Tomas Sanchez — a graduate of Shorewood High in Shoreline — had 15 points and 11 assists to help the Bengals (5-6, 2-0 Big Sky) defeat the Eagles (5-8, 0-2).

Tyler Harvey scored 19 points for Eastern Washington and Parker Kelly, a graduate of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, added 16.

Top 5 women

No. 1 Connecticut 90, at Memphis 49

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points as UConn (15-0, 3-0 American Athletic) crushed the Tigers (7-7, 0-2).

Unbeaten teams
NCAA Division I men’s teams that haven’t lost:
Team W-L
Arizona 15-0
Ohio State 15-0
Syracuse 14-0
Wisconsin 14-0
Wichita State 14-0
Oregon 13-0
Iowa State 13-0
Pac-12 men
Team Pac-12 Overall
Arizona 2-0 15-0
Oregon 1-0 13-0
Colorado 1-0 12-2
California 1-0 10-4
Washington 1-1 9-6
Utah 1-1 12-2
UCLA 0-0 11-2
USC 0-0 9-4
Washington St. 0-1 7-6
Arizona St. 0-1 11-3
Stanford 0-1 9-4
Oregon St. 0-2 8-6
Saturday’s scores Arizona 71, Washington 62Utah 80, Oregon St. 69
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