Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Jump to 15th in Rankings

Notre Dame reserve guard TJ Gibbs is providing solid points off the bench. (Photo: © Jasen Vinlove // USA TODAY Sports)
Notre Dame reserve guard TJ Gibbs is providing solid points off the bench. (Photo: © Jasen Vinlove // USA TODAY Sports)

Another promising week of consistency for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team resulted in their elevation to the 15th spot in both the AP and Coaches’ polls. The Irish managed to win a pair of games, each in exciting fashion. Both were conference victories, both came on the road and both ended up as five-point wins. Notre Dame enters the week with a 16-2 overall record and currently holds the ACC lead with a spotless 5-0 mark.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Last Thursday, some late heroics were required as Mike Brey’s squad trailed Miami, 61-57, with 2:46 left. However, a 10-1 run to close out the game put this contest in the win column. A Matt Farrell layup started the surge, with V.J. Beacham’s layup with 1:08 left giving Notre Dame the lead for good at 63-61.

The Hurricanes split a pair of free throws, but a Steve Vasturia layup with 11 seconds left gave the Irish a three-point cushion and Beacham’s steal iced the 67-62 victory.

Two days later, Notre Dame had to battle back in the last two minutes after blowing a 19-point lead against Virginia Tech. The Irish had roared out to an early 33-14 advantage by hitting on 70 percent of their shots from the field but the Hokies continually chipped away before taking a 67-66 lead with 1:52 left.

Matt Farrell’s layup gave Notre Dame the lead back and their defense then made two consecutive stops. A Beacham basket and four Irish free throws then solidified the 76-71 win.

Notre Dame Basketball Standouts

Bonzie Colson

Though Colson narrowly missed what’s become his standard double-double performance in the Miami win, his eight points and 11 rebounds were important. His two free throws with 1:35 left tied the game and rebound of a missed free throw led to the late Vasturia layup. Against Virginia Tech, Colson was back in familiar territory with 14 points and 12 boards, throwing in a couple of assists for good measure.

Matt Farrell

College basketball’s version of Matty Ice closed out the win over Miami on two free throws with four seconds left. That was part of a 15-point, six-assist performance, with Farrell also pitching in on the glass with four rebounds. Facing the Hokies, he tossed in 14 points, hauled down five missed shots by Virginia Tech and dished out three assists. His late layup, followed by a steal and later free throw helped the Irish avoid what would have been a devastating collapse.

Steve Vasturia

Managing 10 points, six rebounds and six assists against Miami, Vasturia’s most important points came on his late layup that offered the team some breathing room. He was able to double that scoring output against the Hokies and added four rebounds and assists apiece. Vasturia also was one of four Notre Dame players to split a pair of free throws in the final 28 seconds to put the game away.

Notre Dame’s Week Ahead

The Irish remain on the road as they travel to Tallahassee Wednesday night to face a stiff challenge from the 10th-ranked Florida State Seminoles. The Seminoles enter that game with a 16-2 mark overall and 4-1 in the ACC, coming off a 96-83 loss to North Carolina on Saturday.

Following that contest, Notre Dame returns to South Bend for an early Saturday matchup against the Syracuse Orangemen that will tip off shortly after noon. Syracuse is currently 11-7 overall and 3-2 in the ACC.

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