Notre Dame Basketball Report: Young Irish Hit Road for 1st Time

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

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  1. Irish look together this time around. No one will take them seriously. They just might pull some upset road wins when they get to league play and get in the tournament.

  2. It’ll be interesting to see how the Irish do against OK tonight. Last week’s game against Illinois was definitely an up and down affair. They seemed to take control late in the 2nd half then all of a sudden they let Illinois start to chip away until Illinois almost stole the game.

    It was concerning because the Irish went cold on offense and defense. After doing everything right for much of the 2nd period all of a sudden it all fell apart and nothing was going right. They were frankly lucky to come away with the win. Even the foul shooting was subpar, surprising because that was a huge strength the past couple of years. To the point it was almost futile for teams to foul them in a close game because all it did was make the margin of victory bigger for the Irish.

    Durham was great though on defense. He had some incredible stops and I hope to see more of that this season.

  3. I’m very curious to see if Durham can pick up where he left off in the Illinois game. The lineup with him, Giibs, Hubb, Harvey, and Pfluegar was the one that put together the 14-0 run to take control of the game.

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