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
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.
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.
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.
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.