2018-19

Notre Dame vs. North Carolina: Coby White scored 17 points and Nassir Little added 11 points in the second half as the No. 13 Tar Heels held off Notre Dame, 75-69.  John Mooney scored 16 points and pulled down 19 rebounds for the Fighting Irish in the loss.  The young Fighting Irish led this one at half time and hung with the more talented Tar Heels for much of the game, but inexperience kicked in down the stretch as the Irish faded.

Despite the loss, it was encouraging to see Notre Dame’s young roster hang with the 12th ranked Tar Heels until the end as they show signs of a promising future.  TJ Gibbs played at less than 100 percent after being sick and missing Saturday’s win over Boston College.  The effects of that illness showed as Gibbs hit just 1 of 9 shots on the night.  He still managed to gut out 35 minutes though.

Notre Dame returns to action on Saturday back on their home court against another top 25 opponent – #17 NC State.  Tip Off is set for 2:00 with the game being broadcast on the ACC Network.

Winning in the ACC can be a difficult proposition for any team, with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish finally collecting their first victory of the season in that category on Saturday. That win wasn’t without some late drama, though getting over that hurdle was an absolute necessity with more challenges facing Mike Brey and his squad during the final 15 conference games.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

The 69-66 victory over the Boston College Eagles gave the Irish a 1-2 mark in conference action and 11-5 overall, while BC dropped to 9-6 on the year and are still looking for their first ACC win. One key absence for already-depleted Notre Dame in this matchup was guard T.J Gibbs, who came down with an illness shortly before the game began. Having just six scholarship players available, including three freshman starters, fatigue nearly cost them the win.

The first half of the Irish-Eagles clash saw most of the first seven minutes serving as a back-and-forth volley of tightly-played ball. After Boston College managed to take a 12-9 lead with five straight points in 29 seconds, it was Notre Dame that answered back with 10 unanswered points to take a seven-point lead.

Neither team was especially sharp at the outset for the noontime start, especially when it came to shooting from beyond the arc. In that department, the two teams each managed to only hit a trio of long-range shots among their 27 attempts for a 22 percent success rate. When halftime arrived, the Irish held a 31-25 advantage.

Once the game resumed, BC got the margin down to three points at 36-33 during the opening two minutes, However, Notre Dame roared back with a 13-2 surge in less than four minutes to take their biggest lead at 49-35 with 14:38 to go in the contest. That was followed by the margin being chopped back down to four before the Irish bumped it back into double-digits with 8:18 left at 58-47 on a Dane Goodwin layup.

That led to a nerve-wracking conclusion that began when the Eagles embarked on a 19-7 run that gave them a 66-65 lead with just 15 seconds left. After D.J. Harvey missed a jumper, the luck of the Irish resulted in a quick BC turnover that gave Notre Dame the ball back with eight seconds left. Prentiss Hubb was then fouled and made both free throws to give the Irish the lead for good, with a desperation toss also resulting in the final two points at the line, these coming from Goodwin.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

Finishing with 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks on the afternoon, Mooney again was a vital cog in the Irish victory since Juwan Durham was unavailable because of an injured ankle. He closed out the first 20 minutes with 10 points and six boards, then kicked it up a notch on the scoring front after intermission.

Prentiss Hubb

Hubb managed to replace Gibbs on the day by effectively handling different facets by closing his performance with 16 points, hauling down six rebounds, dishing five assists and also applying some defense with three steals. While he finished the game with four three-pointers, the most important of those 16 points were the final two that came at the line. With the game in the balance, he calmly sank both ends to give the Irish the lead after drawing a foul on a drive to the basket.

Nick Laszewski

The big freshman made the most of his first start, even if his shooting touch was off, making just two of his 12 shots from the field. Still, his eight points and 10 rebounds were badly needed on a team that was achingly short of players, with the near double-double a step forward in his development.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The upcoming week will see the Irish tackle the difficult task of battling a pair of Top 25 teams. Tuesday night’s road foe, the 13th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, are licking their wounds after getting drilled at home on Saturday by Louisville, 82-62, to fall to 12-4 on the year overall and 2-1 in the ACC. This series has long been dominated by the Tar Heels, who hold a 23-6 advantage in the all-time matchup and have won last five meetings, two of which have taken place in the postseason.

Saturday, Notre Dame returns to Purcell Pavilion for a daytime clash against the 17th-ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack, which brings a 14-2 overall and 2-1 record into the week. The Wolfpack travel to face Wake Forest on Tuesday night before facing the Irish, who have won the last two battles between the two schools.

The start of 2019 and ACC play has been anything but happy for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the court as they lost the first two of 18 conference matchups last week. That drops their overall record to 10-5 on the year and has them still searching for their first ACC victory, which Mike Brey is hoping isn’t a road map for the rest of the regular season.

In each of last week’s contests, Notre Dame had opportunities to pick up a win, but ultimately couldn’t sustain enough momentum over the course of the game. The hope is that the departure of veteran leadership from last year and the loss of Rex Pflueger can be overcome before the campaign gets desperate and ultimately lost.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Opening up the new year in Blacksburg, VA, the Irish had problems during the opening half just maintaining possession, ending the first 20 minutes with nine turnovers. Predictably, that put Notre Dame in a hole as Tech pushed their lead into double-digits with a 28-15 advantage, However, a 13-2 run by the Irish closed to gap to just two by the half at 30-28.

Once play resumed, the Notre Dame defense fell apart as Tech was on fire from the field, connecting on 71 percent of their attempts. While that would have been bad enough, the Hokies were even deadlier from beyond the arc by making all but one of their nine three-point attempts. That scoring touch became most evident during a 28-11 run that helped seal the 81-66 Tech win.

Four days later, the Irish returned to Purcell Pavilion, but the result was the same, with the Syracuse Orangemen coming away with the 72-62 victory. Early on, Notre Dame was in sync, taking a 20-10 during the first seven minutes of action. That changed over the next five minutes, with a 12-3 Syracuse run giving them the 23-22 lead before each team traded baskets until intermission.

Disaster hit in the first four minutes of the second half when the Orangemen ran off the first nine points and never trailed again. The Irish immediately answered back with a 9-2 run, but each time they put themselves in position to take back the lead, Syracuse pushed the lead back up. With 6:17 to play, the Orangemen led 60-58 and proceeded to clinch the game with a 10-1 surge over the next five minutes.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

The most consistent performer for the Irish on the week, Gibbs connected for most of his 37 points in the two games by long-distance. Against Virginia Tech, he finished with 19 points and four assists, draining five three-pointers during his time on the court. He managed to top the latter twp numbers against Syracuse, when all 18 of his points came on threes, while he handed out five assists.

D.J. Harvey

The only other Irish player to scoring double-figures in both games was Harvey, who tallied a combined 27 points and grabbed a total of nine boards off the glass. The more impressive performance came at Virginia Tech, when he finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Four days later, a quieter effort of 11 points and two rebounds weren’t enough.

John Mooney

Mooney’s main contributions to start off 2019 came in the paint, grabbing a total of 24 rebounds in the two defeats and coming close to a pair of double-doubles. At Tech, his nine points and 10 rebounds came up short, as did a 14-point, 14-rebound effort at home against Syracuse.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Irish will have a full week to absorb their early losses and find ways to get back in the win column. They’ll have the benefit of being able to stay within the confines of Purcell Pavillion when they host the Boston College Eagles in an early game on Saturday. The Eagles also dropped their ACC opener to Virginia Tech and will be coming off another severe challenge prior to facing Notre Dame. That’s because they host fourth-ranked Virginia on Tuesday night.

Since there aren’t presently too many things on the side of the Irish right now, Brey and his team are hoping that history will be one of them. That’s because the Irish have won 15 of the last 16 meetings against BC, including the last 11 in a row. Under the ACC banner, Notre Dame has an unblemished record in this series, while the overall numbers show the Irish holding a 21-10 lead.

Notre Dame freshman guard Dane Goodwin

Closing out the 2018 portion of their schedule with a win, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now begin the new year with a 10-3 record. While the record looks impressive, Mike Brey’s revamped squad has yet to tackle the string of challenges that now await them as they begin play in the always-rugged ACC.

For one thing, Notre Dame played 10 home games during the non-conference portion of their schedule, a luxury they no longer have against conference foes. The road ahead will also have to be traveled without an experienced hand like Rex Pflueger, who was lost for the season with an ACL injury two weeks ago.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Last week, the Irish had just one game on their docket and given the way they played for a good portion of the contest, they appeared to be looking ahead to ACC opponents. That was a mistake that was thankfully addressed before what would have been a humiliating loss became a reality.

Notre Dame jumped out to a 25-13 lead over the 0-14 Coppin State Eagles, appearing to be on their way to a comfortable victory. That mindset abruptly changed in the final seven minutes of the opening half when the Eagles closed with a 14-4 surge, making it a tight 29-27 clash in favor of the Irish.

With Coppin State making their comeback, it was Notre Dame that looked like the winless squad, making just one of the last six shots of the half from the field and committing four turnovers. Things didn’t get any better once play resumed after the break, with the Irish’s ice-cold shooting putting them in a position where they trailed 47-38 with just under 10 minutes to play.

Alarms were loud enough for the Irish to hear them at that point, which resulted in a 21-4 run and a 25-9 surge to close out the game. Yet this game will likely go into the file-and-forget category for Notre Dame, given their 28 percent shooting from the field in the second half and because they were out-rebounded during the game by a 47-38 count.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

Leading the Notre Dame offense with 15 points against the Eagles, Gibbs also dished out five assists and was one of the central aspects of the second half comeback. He did knock down a trio of three-pointers, though his shooting was a game-long struggle, connecting on just four of his 16 shots from the field. That touch is something that Gibbs needs to improve on with ACC play now on the table, considering he has a season field goal shooting average of just 35 percent.

John Mooney

Mooney did a little bit of everything against Coppin State, though he also had some issues putting the ball in the basket. he finished the game with 14 points and eight boards, while handing out three assists and also picking up a pair of steals. However, his 4-of-14 shooting from the field was in sharp contrast to his 17-of-24 contributions in that category during the previous three contests.

Dane Goodwin

The freshman continues to make his mark and could be a huge asset as the Irish seek to replace Pflueger. Goodwin ended his day with 13 points and six rebounds, the third time in th last four games that he’s scored in double-figures. In addition, he drained a pair of threes for the second game in a row, which could b a positive precursor for what lies ahead.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Irish don’t waste any time in playing their first game of 2019, which takes place on the road on New Year’s Day against the 10th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. In the first of 18 straight games against ACC opponents, Notre Dame will be facing a Tech squad that they’ve beaten eight out of the last nine times. However, the Hokies will be looking for revenge after watching the Irish defeat them in last year’s conference tourney with an incredible comeback, when Notre Dame won by a score of 71-65.

On Saturday, the Syracuse Orangemen come to South Bend holding a 26-14 edge in a series that dates back to 1985. On the Irish home court, Jim Boeheim’s unit holds a 12-6 advantage, with the two teams taking turns in the last six battles at Purcell Pavillion. Two years ago, Notre Dame won by a score of 84-66.

Notre Dame guard TJ Gibbs

Two more victories last week for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now gives them a 9-3 record as they prepare for their final non-conference clash before ACC play begins. The pair of wins delivered contrasting performances, with the first victory presenting more of a challenge. That was likely due to the news of Rex Pflueger’s season-ending ACL injury just one day earlier.

Being without his senior presence for the remainder of the campaign will be difficult, especially when the level of competition picks up in just a few weeks, For the time being, getting adjusted to the new reality should be manageable because the Irish won’t have to leave the comfortable surroundings of Purcell Pavilion.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

The pall that was cast once Pflueger’s fate became known was compounded early on by Notre Dame’ struggle in dealing with Binghamton’s zone defense that allowed the visitors to score the first seven points of the contest. In the latter instance, the end result was a weak shooting performance from the field that saw Mike Brey’s squad hit on just 26 percent of their attempts. From beyond the arc, those numbers barely hit 23 percent, with the Irish managing to hit on just three of their 13 attempts, holding a 25-21 lead at the break.

That effort was a wake-up call because Notre Dame roared out of the gates to start off the second half, going on a 16-4 run to take a 16-point lead. The Irish held their largest lead at 49-31, though the Bearcats went on a 23-12 surge to make it 61-54 in favor of Notre Dame with 1:54 left. Twisting some defensive screws down the stretch allowed the Irish to emerge with a 69-56 victory.

Just 48 hours later, Notre Dame’s shooting touch was never an issue as they rolled to a 100-74 win over Jacksonville. This first-ever meeting between the two schools ended with the Irish shooting 60 percent from the field, knocking down 18 three-pointers. That success was bolstered by a season-high 24 assists.

During the first half, Notre Dame raced out to a 57-43 lead, then continued to build up that lead after the break. Holding a 74-56 lead, the Irish ended any hint of a comeback by scoring 13 unanswered points to take their largest lead of the game. One of the major positives derived from this game was the 39 points delivered from Notre Dame’s reserves.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

Leading the scoring parade for the week, Gibbs contributed 34 points, nine assists and four rebounds and also collected a pair of steals in the rout of Jacksonville. He was also sharp in the area of long-range shooting, drilling home a trio of three-pointers against Binghamton before then draining four two nights later.

John Mooney

As the only other Notre Dame player to score in double-figures in both of last week’s games, Mooney continued his strong early season performance. In the Binghamton clash, he notched his sixth double-double of the season by tossing in 12 points and hauling down 12 boards, while also swatting away a pair of shots. Against Jacksonville, the key numbers were 16 points and seven rebounds on the night.

D.J. Harvey

Following a fairly quiet effort against Binghamton, which saw him score nine points and grab five rebounds, Harvey bounced back to lead the Irish in scoring with 19 points, cleaning the glass for five board and also dishing out three assists, That latter scoring push was aided by his shooting from beyond the arc, when he matched Gibbs with four three-pointers.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Notre Dame will be well-rested when they take on the Coppin St. Eagles on Dec. 29, though it’s unlikely their visitors will offer too much of a challenge. That’s because they’re still looking for their first win of the season, having dropped their first 14 attempts. The most recent of those defeats came on Sunday, when they were pounded by the Houston Cougars.

One indication of how weak the Eagles are this season is the fact that none of those 14 losses have been by less than nine points, with the 97-40 defeat at Virginia on November 16 being the worst of that forgettable bunch. This contest will be only the second time the two schools have met, the last one coming four years ago, when Notre Dame coasted to a 104-67 win on November 19, 2014.

Just three games remain on the schedule for the 2018 portion of Notre Dame’s basketball season, with the results largely delivering what was expected. A 7-3 start for a team that’s been forced to replace major portions of their lineup at least holds the hope that the growing pains that are part of this rebuilding campaign have diminished.

The Irish had just one game on the schedule last week, but it was something of a milestone since they were able to win away from South Bend after dropping their first two efforts. In each of those earlier efforts, fades down the stretch were costly, something that was avoided in their victory in the annual Crossroads Classic.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

That clash against the Purdue Boilermakers wasn’t necessarily in unfriendly territory given the neutral Indianapolis locale. However, the need to win away from the rabid fans at Purcell Pavillion needed an official starting point and was accomplished in the 88-80 win on Saturday afternoon. However, the win ended up coming with a devastating price attached to that final score.

The reason is because the year for senior Rex Pflueger came to an abrupt end after he left the game with 5:36 left in the game following an awkward landing near the basket. The concern for the Notre Dame faithful ramped up even more when Pflueger immediately grabbed his knee in pain and had to be helped off the court, with a season-ending ACL tear becoming the ultimate diagnosis.

Pflueger had contributed seven points and served as the key playmaker by dishing out 10 assists prior to his departure. During the first half, the Irish applied the clamps to Purdue’s offense by holding them to 33 percent shooting from the field and 29 points on the scoreboard. Taking a 36-29 lead into halftime, Notre Dame maintained control of the game with a balanced scoring attack and with Pflueger handing out seven of his assists.

Coming out of the break, the Irish were able to hold onto the lead, never allowing it to get under four points. After taking a 66-51 lead with 7:37 left, Notre Dame withstood a late surge that chipped away at that double-digit margin. Holding a slim 71-64 advantage with 2:33 to go, the Irish then effectively delivered the back-breaker by answering with a three-pointer to boost the lead back up to 10 points. Their final 14 points ended up coming at the foul line, with Purdue managing to keep things interesting by hitting a pair of threes.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

Doing the major portion of his damage in the second half, Mooney finished with a team-high 21 points and six rebounds, with his clutch three-pointer giving Notre Dame enough of a cushion to hold off Purdue’s furious rally. After the break, he managed to toss in 15 points and grab five boards, with his offensive surge directly connected to his success beyond the arc that included two other three-pointers.

D.J. Harvey

Finishing with 19 points and five rebounds, Harvey also flourished during the second half by scoring 12 and hauling down three shots off the glass. He hit two three-pointers in those final 20 minutes and has had multiple threes in eight of the 10 Irish games this year, an asset that’s something which can help spread the floor, especially with ACC play on the horizon.

T.J. Gibbs

Ending his afternoon with 12 points, four rebounds and three rebounds, Gibbs struggled all game with his shooting touch. He hit on just three of his 11 shots from the field and drew a blank on all six attempts from beyond the arc. The hope is that he can shake off a slump that;s seen him connect at just a 34 percent rate on field goal attempts.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

After three games away from South Bend, the Irish return to Purcell Pavilion for their final two games before Christmas, The first of these matchups takes place on Tuesday night against the 3-8 Binghamton Bearcats, who are dealing with a three-game losing streak after dropping a 58-48 decision to Youngstown State on Saturday. This clash will only be the second time the two schools have met, with Notre Dame hoping that history repeats itself. That’s because on November 14, 2014, the Irish coasted to an 82-39 victory.

Two nights later, Notre Dame will have no such history to fall back on when they face the 7-5 Jacksonville Dolphins for the first time. Jacksonville has thus far been a streaky team that’s won seven of their last eight games after dropping their first four contests. They’re coming off a Saturday night road win against Bethune-Cookman.

Notre Dame played its most complete 40 minutes of basketball on Saturday giving Irish fans a glimpse of what this young team is capable of when they start hitting on all cylinders. Any optimism from their 88-80 win over Purdue in the Crossroads Classic, however, was clouded by the news of what appears to be a major injury for senior guard Rex Pflueger.  With 5:35 remaining, Pflueger fell to the ground grabbing his knee and the fear is that it’s his ACL and he will be done for the year and his Irish career.

Despite the potentially devastating injury to Pflueger, the Irish had encouraging performances from John Mooney who scored a career high 21 points, DJ Harvey who tied his career high with 19 points, and freshman Dane Goodwin who chipped in 11 off the bench.

Prior to the injury, Pflueger had easily the best game of his season and one of the better games of his career with a career high 10 assists as he facilitated the Irish offense much of the day.

Notre Dame lost Robby Carmody to season ending surgery earlier this week and Elijah Burns to transfer earlier this season.

Notre Dame F John Mooney

The challenges of putting a young and rebuilding team on the court has its ups and downs, with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish unfortunately experiencing the latter portion during their two games last week. Both contests saw the Irish having the opportunity to come away with a victory before some stumbles down the stretch resulted in defeats that drop them to 6-3 on the year.

In each of the losses, the Irish fell behind before managing a comeback that couldn’t be sustained. Both clashes were the first time Notre Dame had ventured from Purcell Pavilion this season, with the hope being that the learning curve for the newcomers includes figuring out exactly how to win on the road on a regular basis.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

The first of two games last week saw the Irish play on the road for the first time this season, facing the Oklahoma Sooners at Madison Square Garden. The contest was historic in one sense because it marked the first-ever meeting on the court between the two schools. Like Notre Dame, Oklahoma entered the clash with a 6-1 record on the young season, but it was the Sooners who walked off the court with an improved mark by holding on for an 85-80 victory.

The Irish only held a few brief leads during the game, the last coming with 13:48 left after a dunk by Juwan Durham that made it 50-49. That was in the midst of a 21-9 Notre Dame run, with Mike Brey’s squad having one final opportunity to capture the win in the closing minutes. They trailed 78-77 with 2:26 left, following a layup from Prentiss Hubb, but watched the Sooners’ Christian James score his team’s last seven points to salt away the win.

Four nights later, the resumption of what had been a classic rivalry came when Notre Dane traveled to Pauley Pavillion to take on the UCLA Bruins. This loss turned out to be even more painful when the Bruins connected on a three-pointer with just 0.1 seconds left to win 65-62, spoiling a determined comeback that saw the Irish trailing by 14 early in the second half.

UCLA led 53-45 with 9:52 to go, which was when Notre Dae embarked on a 19-4 run over the next six minutes ti take a 62-57 lead with 3:39 left in the contest. However, that surge turned into a short-circuit with the Irish unable to add to their total while watching the Bruins knot the score and then deliver the buzzer-beating dagger. Rex Plflueger made his homecoming a good one with 14 points and six rebounds, while Juwan Durham slapped away another four opposing shots.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

Even if the team’s results weren’t a success on the scoreboard, Mooney did his part by collecting double-doubles in each contest. Against Oklahoma, he and Durham each tossed in 15 points though he was dominant on the glass by hauling down 14 boards on the night. In the UCLA matchup, he tallied 12 points and scooped up 11 rebounds.

TJ Gibbs

Gibbs had a team-high 18 points in the Oklahoma loss, also adding a trio of rebounds and assists to his scoring ledger. His long-range shooting proved to be much better than his overall numbers, connecting on four of his six three-point attempts, as opposed to 6-of-16 overall. In the UCLA clash, he managed nine points and four assists.

D.J. Harvey

In each of the Irish’s two games, Harvey scored in double-figures, scoring 11 points against Oklahoma and then chipping in with 13 points and six rebounds against UCLA. In the latter case, he also contributed on the defensive side by collecting three steals, but struggled with his long-range shooting by making just one of his six shots.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Final exams are largely in focus during the week, which explains why the Irish schedule has just one game on tap. That’s a Saturday afternoon matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers that will take place in Indianapolis. Despite the fact that these two teams both reside in the state of Indiana, this will be only the fifth time they”ve met in the past 52 years, with three of those battles occurring within the past six seasons.

That trio of matchups have all been connected to the Crossroads Classic, which also features Indiana and Butler, who will take on each other in the other game. Since the event began in 2011, the Irish have rotated between facing Purdue and Indiana, but have yet to take on Butler.

Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame: T.J. Gibbs scored a team-high 18 points and John Mooney dropped 15 and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to get past Oklahoma in an 85-80 loss at the Jimmy V Classic. Juwan Durham and D.J. Harvey also scored in double figures for the Irish in the loss. Christian James led all scorers with 25 points for the Sooners in the win.

Notre Dame showed some growing pains as its young lineup just couldn’t keep up with the older, more experienced Sooners.  That script is usually flipped for Notre Dame, but this season the Irish are replacing a couple program stalwarts in Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell along with veteran role players Martinas Geben and Austin Torres.  The Irish freshman class is among the best Brey has ever brought in to Notre Dame, but their youth was on display on Tuesday night.

In a back and forth game, Notre Dame just couldn’t get a push to take a lead on Oklahoma despite keeping matters within a possession or two for much of the second half.

TJ GIbbs led the IRish with 18 and nailed 4 of 7 three point attempts, but the rest of the Irish roster was ice cold from three point range.  They combined to shoot just 3 of 18 on the night with Prentiss Hubb and DJ Harvey both turning in 0-4 efforts.

Juwan Durham had his best game in an Irish uniform with 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 streals.  The UConn transfer who sat out all of last season played 15 minutes a game after playing 17 against Illinois.  He made the case for more minutes on Tuesday with his performance.

Notre Dame takes its 6-2 record on the road for the second game in a road on Saturday when they travel to Los Angeles to take on 6-2 UCLA.  Tip is set for 10:30 PM ET with the game being televised on ESPN 2.

Having put the month of November in their rear view mirror, the unranked Notre Dame basketball team enters December with a 6-1 mark. That record was aided by the fact that all seven of their games have been in Purcell Pavilion, a circumstance that now changes and will offer a better litmus test as to how good this rebuilding team will perform as the season moves forward.

Last week saw only one game on the Irish docket, when they hosted the Fighting Illini from Illinois and escaped with a tight 76-74 victory. The win was part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, with the usual mix of positives and negatives attached to the overall assessment about where Mike Brey’s team is headed as they venture away from South Bend for the first time.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

That victory over Illinois didn’t really begin to take shape until after the two teams returned to the court to start the second half. During the opening 20 minutes, both teams had stretches of momentum by putting together uncontested scoring runs, but by the time the horn sounded to end the first half, Notre Dame was clinging to a tight 36-35 lead.

With 14:25 left in the game, the Irish ran off 14 straight points before then holding a 65-52 lead with 6:30 remaining in the game. The Illini then made a furious comeback, aided by weak free throw shooting by the Irish, who finished 24-of-39 on the night in that category. During the final minute, they made just 3-of-8 in that department, allowing Illinois to get off a potential game-winner at the buzzer that missed.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

Using his touch from long-range, Gibbs collected 19 points in the win over Illinois, drilling a trio of three-pointers along the way, He was also active on the boards with four rebounds and also found time to dish out four assists on the evening. That point total was a season-high, while the three-pointers matched his previous game’s effort against DePaul in that category.

D.J. Harvey

Matching Gibbs in the scoring department with 19 points, Harvey also hauled down five boards on the evening. The point production was also a season-high and the fourth time this year that he’s reached double-figures. On the rebounding front, it marked the fifth time in seven games that he’s collected five or more errant shots off the glass.

Juwan Durham

The junior big man had largely stayed under the radar during the first six games of the season for the Irish, but he came alive during the second half of the win over Illinois. He swatted away five shots in those 20 minutes, giving him on the year, and contributed 10 points and four rebounds on the night. The scoring total marked his first collegiate double-figure effort.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

History will be made on Tuesday night when the Irish hit the road to take on the Oklahoma Sooners, a team that also has a 6-1 record. That’s because this clash marks the first-ever men’s basketball meeting between the two teams, an amazing fact given the long legacies for each school.

The Sooners’ only loss this season came against 12th-ranked Wisconsin on Thanksgiving Day during a 78-58 holiday tournament matchup in the Bahamas. Like Notre Dame, Oklahoma hasn’t played since last Tuesday, using solid defense to defeat North Texas, 73-57. The Sooners held their opponents to just 28 percent shooting from the field.

On Saturday, a more familiar foe will be on tap, with the Irish traveling to Los Angeles to face the UCLA Bruins. This contest will mark the 49th meeting between the two schools, though it’s the first time in nearly a decade that Notre Dame has taken the court at legendary Pauley Pavilion. Notre Dame has only won six of the 23 previous road meetings in this matchup.

The Bruins enter this contest with a 6-2 record, coming off an easy 82-58 Sunday victory over Loyola Marymount. UCLA’s only two losses both came away from home during Thanksgiving tournament games in Las Vegas, though the level of competition in those games was stiff. On the holiday, they fell to 10th-ranked Michigan State, 87-67, before then dropping a 94-78 decision to 14th-ranked North Carolina the following night.gibb

Illinois vs. Notre Dame: Fighting Irish guards T.J. Gibbs and D.J. Harvey each scored 19 points in Notre Dame’s 76-74 win over Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Tuesday night. The Irish used a 14-0 run in the second half behind the 10 points and 5 blocks of Juwan Durham to give them some breathing room, then Notre Dame survived a late flurry from the Illini to take home the victory.

After three weeks of action, the 2018-19 edition of the Notre Dame men’s basketball team has sandwiched a pair of perfect weeks with a split to give them a 5-1 mark in the early going. All six have come in the familiar surroundings of South Bend, a circumstance that will be changing within the next few weeks.

Both of last week’s victories came in the wake of the sudden departure of 6-foot-9 senior forward Elijah Burns, who’s scheduled to graduate next month. The rebuilding aspect of the Irish program this season has meant that plenty of players have seen time on the court in the first six games. In Burns’ case, barely seeing the court the previous week helped him make his decision to transfer to Siena.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

Picking up their fourth win of the season required the Irish to deliver in the final 10 minutes as they held off the visiting Duquesne Dukes last Tuesday night by a score of 67-56. A 15-3 first half run gave Notre Dame the early upper hand and they led by as many as 12 before Duquesne chopped that deficit in half by intermission to give the Irish a 33-27 lead.

With just over 17 minutes left in the game, Notre Dame had boosted their lead to 10 at 38-28. It was at that point that the Dukes took barely over two minutes to tie the game up. The ensuing eight minutes of action saw each team briefly take a lead in the tight clash before the Irish settled the matter by scoring 13 unanswered points after trailing 52-51.

Notre Dame hosted long-time rival DePaul on Saturday and delivered a 95-70 pasting to the Blue Demons, with Rex Pflueger bouncing back after a slow start to score a career high 20 points. For the first 12 minutes of action, the visitors maintained a lead, but nine straight points by the Irish changed the momentum of the contest and eventually gave them a 39-36 halftime lead.

That surge went into overdrive in the first 9:12 of the second half when Notre Dame delivered the knockout blow, courtesy of a 32-10 run. Half of those points for the Irish came in the final 3:26 as they outscored their foes 16-3, which turned the remainder of the game into garbage time and offered playing time to each squad’s bench players.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

Gibbs was one of two Irish players to reach double-figures in scoring for each of last week’s games. Against Duquesne, he finished with 11 points and also grabbed seven rebounds while handing out four assists. He also offered a solid defensive effort by picking up three steals. In the DePaul rout, he contributed 18 points, with his trio of three-pointers part of a Notre Dame total of 13 in that category for the game.

Prentiss Hubb

The newcomer also broke into double-figures for both games, tossing in 14 against Duquesne and also grabbing four boards. Four days later, he broadened his numbers by scoring 15, hauling down five rebounds and also dishing out five assists. The point guard missed his final year of high school basketball last year after blowing out his ACL.

John Mooney

From a scoring perspective, Mooney only had one game of note last week. That was against Duquesne, when he poured in 16 points, with a follow-up of just three points in the DePaul victory. However, in each of his games, he was a force in the paint by grabbing 10 and 11 rebounds, respectively. He also swatted away pair of shots against the Dukes before adding another block against the Blue Devils.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Only one game is on tap this week for the Irish, which takes place on Tuesday night when they host Illinois as part of the ACC-Big Ten challenge. Despite the proximity of the two schools, they’ve only met twice in the past 45 years, with one of those matchup coming in the 2003 edition of March Madness.

More recently, the two teams met in December 2015, when Notre Dame traveled to Champaign and came away with an 84-79 win. In that contest, a second half comeback from an eight-point halftime deficit gave the Irish the win.

Two weeks into the 2018-19 basketball season, the Notre Dame men’s team has yet to play any substantive teams during their first four games of the year. While in recent years, that might have resulted in four wins to start the campaign, the Irish do have one blot on their record among that quartet of contests.

The fact that the Irish entered this year in a rebuilding mode means that managing to navigate the early going was not going to always be a smooth process. Two double-digit wins to get the season started offered a positive beginning, but that was dulled by a split of the next two clashes, with Notre Dame still not having left South Bend to face an opponent.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week in Review

In the 84-67 season-opening win over Illinois-Chicago on Nov. 6, the Irish took care of matters early by taking an early 16-6 lead. They managed to head into halftime holding a 46-23 lead, largely on their aggressive play that saw them hit half of those points at the foul line. No comeback came, thanks to Notre Dame going on a 30-17 run to start the second half.

Two nights later, the Irish held a slim 40-35 lead over Chicago State, but again settled issue by coming out of halftime and unleashing a 43-16 surge against their opponents. When the final horn sounded, Notre Dame had an 89-62 win.

Last Wednesday, it was visiting Radford that delivered after the break by outscoring the Irish 31-19 in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Notre Dame was unable to mount their comeback and sustained their first defeat of the year in the 63-60 loss.

On Saturday, some first-half jitters resulted in the Irish trailing William & Mary 28-27 at the half. Things remained close until the latter part of the half, when Notre Dame used a 14-2 run to fuel their 73-64 victory.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

John Mooney

As the chief big man in the paint for the Irish this season, Mooney needs to deliver strong play on the glass as well as delivering in the scoring department. During the first two games of the year, the results were mixed, with a near double-double of 10 points and eight boards following by lower numbers against Chicago State.

While Notre Dame ended up on the short of the scoreboard against Radford, Mooney did his part during the game with a 24-point, 12-rebound performance. He followed that up with another double-double against William & Mary by tossing in 13 points and hauling down 11 rebounds.

T.J Gibbs

Beginning his season with a rough night against Illinois-Chicago, Gibbs managed to score nine points, collect four rebounds and dish out a trio of assists. The problem was that he was 2-of-12 from the field, including 1-of-8 from long range during the contest.

The shooting for Gibbs was slightly better in the Chicago State clash, managing 10 points, before then tallying 11 in the Radford defeat. However, he led the Irish in scoring against William & Mary by picking up 18 while still struggling with his outside shot. Half of his points on the afternoon came at the line.

D.J. Harvey

Reaching double-figures on three occasions, Harvey began the year with 10-point, six-rebound effort in the opener, hitting all six of his free throw attempts. He then followed it up with 11 points and seven boards in 19 minutes during the Chicago State game.

Limited to just 20 minutes on the court during the Radford loss, he finished with just seven points on five shot attempts. In the William & Mary game, Harvey connected three times from downtown and ended his day with 15 points, along with a pair of boards.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The Thanksgiving week schedule has the Irish staying at home for two more games, sandwiching them around the holiday. On Tuesday, they host the Duquesne Dukes, a school they haven’t played since 1995 and one in which the Dukes hold a 5-2 advantage in their meetings that only date back to the 1969-70 season.

After dining on turkey, Notre Dame will then take on the DePaul Blue Demons in a resumption of this rivalry between the two nearby foes. This series dates back to 1950, but the Irish have dominated in recent years and hope to extend their 10-game winning steak in this matchup.