Notre Dame Basketball Report: Irish Moving Back Up the Polls

Bonzie Colson and the Irish are telling the ACC to bring it on with their recent play (Photo: © Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)

Having virtually the entire week off, the Notre Dame men’s basketball game was refreshed enough on Sunday night to knock off the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 64-60, which helped improve their ACC season record to 11-5. The victory also put them in a three-way logjam in second place, joining Florida State and Louisville, also allowing them to move up two spots to 19th in the AP poll.

Each of those teams is two games behind conference leader North Carolina, which sits atop the ACC with a 13-3 mark. Even if the Irish somehow manages to catch the Tar Heels in their final two contests, their loss to Roy Williams’ squad on February 5 would still give North Carolina the top seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

In the win over Georgia Tech, both teams traded early leads until Bonzie Colson’s layup with 8:57 left in the first half gave the Irish a 22-20 lead. They would never relinquish that advantage for the remainder of the contest, with that basket sparking a 7-0 run and helping Notre Dame head to intermission with a 34-28 lead.

Despite repeated attempts, the Yellow Jackets were continually stymied after the break when they sought to get their deficit below four points. On three separate occasions, the Irish managed to push the margin back up, the last coming when the score stood at 52-48 with just over five minutes left in the game.

Matt Farrell’s jumper with 3:29 left sparked an 8-2 run that Notre Dame needed during the final 1:24 of the contest. That’s because the Irish watched their 60-50 lead dwindle to just two at 62-60 with five seconds left. Farrell helped put the game on ice by knocking down a pair of free throws at the three-second mark.

Standouts of the Week

Bonzie Colson

The contributions of Colson were again evident as he picked up a double-double on 20 points and 11 rebounds. Unlike teammates, Colson didn’t appear to be affected by Georgia Tech’s zone defense. That’s because he was able to drill all three of thrre-point attempts-in contrast to his teammates’ 7-for-26 performance from long-range. For good measure, Colson also blocked a pair of shots and collected two steals on the night.

Matt Farrell

As previously noted, Farrell played a key role in the win over the Yellow Jackets, concluding his evening with 17 points and a pair of assists. Farrell’s play in the clutch was evident not only with timely scoring, which saw 13 of his points come during the second half, but his grace under pressure at the line. The junior nailed nine of his 10 attempts from the charity stripe, including six consecutive shots during the final two minutes.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

A tricky week ahead for Mike Brey’s squad awaits, with a Wednesday night home matchup against the Boston College Eagles, who currently sit at the bottom of the ACC standings. Back on Valentine’s Day, Notre Dame escaped with an 84-76 victory over the Eagles, but can’t afford to take this contest lightly, given their precarious position when it comes to possible tournament seeding.

Then on Saturday, the Irish have to travel to Louisville for an afternoon clash against the Cardinals. This game could very well determine who grabs the second seed for the ACC tourney, with Rick Pitino’s squad looking for revenge after dropping a 77-70 decision to Notre Dame on January 5.

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One Comment

  1. Farrell had a clutch play late in the game when he got a shot off behind the net with under 2 minutes to play and the shot clock hitting zero. When he nailed that shot you sort of knew it was over and the Irish would win. Inexplicably they missed a couple free throws at the end that kept it much closer than it should have been, esp. a miss by Vasturia who does not miss FT’s. Thankfully Farrell iced the game with his 2 FT’s putting the Irish up by 4 with 5 seconds left.

    On paper they should beat BC handily (another team that’s nice to beat in any sport, like Miami and Michigan). But ND always keeps things interesting. I’d love a nice beatdown if for no other reason Brey can rest some of the starters. Louisville will be a key game though, and could very likely determine if ND gets a double bye going into the ACC tournament.

    Go Irish!

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