SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame sent quite the message in its Atlantic Coast Conference debut.
Eric Atkins scored 19, Pat Connaughton had 16 and the Fighting Irish upset No. 7 Duke 79-77 on Saturday.
The victory came two weeks after leading scorer Jerian Grant was dismissed from school for an academic violation. It provided a much-needed confidence boost as the Irish began play in their new league.
"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,' "coach Mike Brey said. "Because nobody else thought we had a shot."
Atkins scored seven 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.
"It definitely gives us a lot of life," Atkins said. "Everybody's confidence is up now, winning such a big game."
The Irish improved to 13-6 against top-10 teams at home under Brey. The Blue Devils (11-3) lost an ACC opener for the first time in seven seasons.
Rodney Hood, who led the Blue Devils with 27 points, said Duke played like an immature team, allowing the Irish to hold the ball for long periods and 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 3-pointer from the top of the key with about 11 minutes left.
But when Notre Dame went to a small lineup to try to guard the Blue Devils better from behind the arc, Demetrius Jackson hit a 3 to spark the 20-4 run.
"I thought that was the biggest shot of the game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "If we get a stop, we could have gone up by 12. That was a huge shot."
NO. 1 ARIZONA 71, WASH. 62: Nick Johnson scored 24 and Aaron Gordon had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the host Wildcats (15-0, 2-0 Pac-12), off to their best start since they were 16-0 in 1931-32.
NO. 2 SYRACUSE 49, UM 44: C.J. Fair had 15 points, including the go-ahead basket with 4:16 left, and the host Orange (14-0, 1-0) rallied late to beat the Hurricanes (8-6, 0-2) in its ACC debut.
NO. 3 OHIO ST. 84, NEBRASKA 53: LaQuinton Ross had 11 points and hit two 3-pointers as the host Buckeyes (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten) tuned up for Tuesday night's game at Michigan State.
NO. 5 MICH. ST. 73, INDIANA 56: Gary Harris had 26 points for the visiting Spartans (13-1, 2-0 Big Ten), including 17 in the first half and a 5-point play midway through the second.
KANSAS ST. 74, NO. 6 OKLA. ST. 71: Marcus Foster had 17 points, Nino Williams made two free throws with 5.7 seconds left and the host Wildcats held off the Cowboys (12-2) in the Big 12 opener for both.
NO. 13 IOWA ST. 73, TEXAS TECH 62: Georges Niang had 17 points for the visiting Cyclones (13-0), who tied a school record with their 13th straight win in their Big 12 opener.
NO. 14 LOUISVILLE 83, RUTGERS 76: Russ Smith scored 22 for the visiting Cardinals (13-2, 2-0 AAC), who used their press and free-throw shooting to win a foul-plagued game.
SMU 74, NO. 17 UCONN 65: Nic Moore had 20 points and six assists to lead the Mustangs in their first game of the season played on campus in refurbished Moody Coliseum. The Huskies (11-3, 0-2 AAC) lost their second straight game, both in Texas.
CINCY 69, NO. 18 MEMPHIS 53: Sean Kilpatrick scored 11 of his 18 down the stretch, and the visiting Bearcats overcame early shooting woes to end a three-game winning streak by the Tigers (10-3, 1-1 AAC).
NO. 23 UMASS 73, MIAMI (OHIO) 65: Chaz Williams had 18 points and eight assists, leading the host Minutemen (12-1).
NO. 24 GONZAGA 86, PACIFIC 64: Drew Barham and Kevin Pangos had 16 points each for the host Bulldogs (14-2, 4-0), who won their 22nd straight West Coast Conference game.
NO. 25 MIssOUri 69, LBSU 59: Jabari Brown scored 22 to help the host Tigers (12-1) fend off pesky Long Beach State.
MILESTONE MATCHUP: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 20 of his 31 in the first half, and the 100th meeting between Georgetown and St. John's quickly became noncompetitive as the host Hoyas cruised 77-60. Georgetown (10-3, 2-0 Big East) beat the Red Storm (9-5, 0-2) for the sixth straight time.
UCF 78, TEMPLE 76: Isaiah Sykes had 23 points and 15 rebounds and Calvin Newell made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 31.6 seconds for the host Knights (9-4, 1-1), who earned their first American Athletic Conference win.
AUBURN 81, FAMU 50: KT Harrell scored 22 and Allen Payne had 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists as the host Tigers routed the Rattlers (4-11).
TAMPA 76, ROLLINS 63: Eric Moraes had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the host Spartans (8-3, 1-1 SSC), who shot 26-of-43 from the floor (60.5 percent).
ECKERD 75, NOVA SE 63: Jerrick Stevenson had 18 points to lead four players in double figures for the host Tritons (8-4) in their SSC opener.
SAINT LEO 92, FLA. TECH 80: Chim Kadima had a career-high 26 points for the host Lions (12-2, 1-1 SSC), who shot 57 percent from the field in their first game in 13 days.