Notre Dame Basketball: 3-0 ACC Start Has Irish on the Rise

image_gone Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports

Another move up in the polls for Notre Dame was the end result of two tight conference victories at home. This week has them moving up three spots in the AP poll to the 20th spot. In their wins, Notre Dame faced Louisville, which was ranked ninth when the game was played, and unranked Clemson, which made life just as difficult for the Irish and head coach Mike Brey.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

The Cardinals came to South Bend looking for their first ACC win of the year, but left still seeking that elusive victory. Notre Dame was clinging to a 71-68 lead in the final minute of action when Steve Vasturia showed that he once again had ice water in his veins by connecting on a shot with 19 seconds left to effectively clinch the 77-70 victory.

On Saturday, the Clemson Tigers quickly jumped out to a 10-0 lead. The Irish answered with a 17-2 run of their own, primarily due to Brey’s use of a four-guard lineup. However, the Tigers roared back to take a 40-33 halftime lead. This nip-and-tuck battle saw no team lead by more than two over most of the final 15 minutes. Matt Farrell’s three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining sealed the Notre Dame victory, while V.J. Beacham matched his career high with 22 points.

Notre Dame Basketball Standouts

Bonzie Colson

Mr. Double-Double didn’t disappoint in last week’s two big games, picking up his ninth and tenth doubles. Against Louisville, Colson scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds before then tallying 13 and hauling down 12 shots off the glass against Clemson. Not surprisingly, Colson currently leads the conference in double-doubles and figures to be in the hunt for ACC Player of the Year.

Steve Vasturia

Besides reinforcing his clutch reputation with the clincher against Louisville, Vasturia managed to combine for 38 points in the two wins. That was tops among all Irish players, with his 24 points and six rebounds against the Cardinals a key component of the win. His Clemson numbers were more modest: 14 points, three rebounds, two assists, but no less important in that thriller.

Matt Farrell

Right behind Vasturia on the scoring chart for last week, Farrell connected for 37 points and handed out nine assists. Facing Louisville, he scored 22 and also contributed three rebounds and a pair of assists before making the most of his 15-point, seven-assist effort against Clemson. In the latter case, his final three points of the game helped ensure that Notre Dame would remain undefeated within the conference.

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Excelling at the Basics

Coaches constantly preach fundamentals, with success at the foul line one of the keys. The Irish have embraced that concept by connecting on 84 percent of their free throws this season. Among the top four scorers, that percentage is even better at 88 percent. Louisville’s Rick Pitino said after last week’s loss that getting into a free throw shooting contest with Notre Dame is a losing proposition.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

After having played all but one of their previous games at home this season, the Irish venture into unfriendly territories twice this week. On Thursday night, they travel to Miami to face a Hurricanes team that’s 11-3 overall and has split their two conference matchups. That’s followed by a Saturday afternoon clash against Virginia Tech, which begins the week with a 12-3 overall mark. They dropped out of the Top 25 after two consecutive ACC losses last week.

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4 comments

  1. Steubenville Bill 4 months ago

    I am astounded more that no ‘I am shocked that we are only
    #20″ comments haven’t been written than the fact that we are only #20 according to the writers and coaches. Cmon NDnation! Are you still wasting your time reading football blogs of who’s in and who’s out (both coaches and recruits)? I’ll admit I’m reading them too but the BBall regular season is literally 1/2 over and the talented Irish cagers are barely being given their do! They beat St Peters and Pitt and they jump 2 places. They defeat #9 Louisville and a very talented Clemson team and they jump a paltry 3 places! I get the flying under the radar concession but which of their next 15 opponents in the ACC are taking them lightly because they barely have cracked the top 20. Give these boys their most deserved recognition and put them near the top 10 and certainly atop Louisville… for goodness sakes(ok, Now you know I’m an old dude) ND was even favored by 1 1/2 points prior to that game! I want to hear SOME outrage just to know that I’m not alone out here. Or perhaps a counterpoint as to why they deserve to be at the bottom of the top 20.

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  2. Damian 4 months ago

    So far so good. Still disappointed in the loss to Purdue, that should have been a win. I’ll give them a mulligan on Villanova for now. But they seem to have made some adjustments since then and are back to finishing games. But it doesn’t get any easier going forward. I like that they’re not afraid or awed by anyone, that they feel they can beat anyone, because it’s true, they can. But they got to keep it going.

    I think this year’s team has potential. They still seem to be missing that big key player like Connaughton and Grant 2 years ago, but I like what I see out of Farrell, Colson and Vasturia.

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  3. Bruce Gregory Curme 4 months ago

    Mike,
    In basketball it has become exceptionally difficult to win on the road, especially in the Big East and the ACC, as I am sure you know. If we win two out of three, it will be a great achievement. I think this team can do that. For some reason, this team is underrated by the experts. That always works in our favor. Just win, baby.

    Bruce G. Curme
    La Crosse, Indiana

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  4. Mike "King" Kelly 4 months ago

    Looks like this team is on a roll. Can’t take anyone for granted. Especially with The Tar Heels and Blue Devils coming up. Then We will find out if this team is to be taken seriously. Sure hope the Irish don’t get ambushed on the road.

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