Career Game from Vasturia Leads Irish Past Pure Evil (Pitino)

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Notre Dame notched their second ACC win Wednesday as the Irish defeated No. 9 Louisville 77-70.

Despite a quiet night from V.J. Beachem and an uncharacteristically low assist to turnover ratio, the Irish were able to make enough plays down the stretch to earn the victory.

The length of Louisville’s defense provides a challenge to every team they play, but Brey’s gameplan of attacking the Cardinals off the dribble worked to perfection and played to the skill sets of Vasturia and Farrell.

The Irish jumped out to a ten point lead in the first half, but the Cardinals, led by Donovan Mitchell, were able to find their offensive groove and close the deficit to five points at the half.

The intensity of this game never wavered in the second half and every time Louisville would make a run, the Irish would have an answer.

Thoughts:

– The game was Pitino’s sixth straight loss in South Bend and, always the epitome of class, concluded his postgame press conference by saying – “Notre Dame always gets a favorable schedule.”

– That’s laughable considering that after Saturday ND plays three straight road games before playing Syracuse, Virginia, Duke, and UNC.

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Photo credit to Andrew McKernan

– While reading the postgame comments, I was struck by how good the Louisville coached and players felt about the way they had played the game.

– Maybe I have been spoiled by watching Brey’s efficient offenses all of these years, but the Cardinals were frankly hard to watch at times in the half court and if it weren’t for the fast break opportunities created by their defense, they wouldn’t have cracked 60 points.

– Their offensive gameplan should have been to attack ND’s undersized front court, but they rarely fed the ball to their big men and most of their opportunities came off of offensive rebounds.

– Colson is a beast. He went for 18 points and 14 rebounds while being six to seven inches smaller than his opposition.

– Weird stats: The Irish outrebound Louisville 38-35 and they committed 12 turnovers while dishing out just six assists.

– I will say it – Matt Farrell, along with the play of T.J. Gibbs, are better than Demetrious Jackson. Jackson was an athletic freak, but there is no question the offense is much more efficient with Farrell and the helm.

– Play of the night: there were a lot of critical possessions in last night’s game, but I think the biggest moment came when Louisville cut the lead to one with about six minutes remaining and Rex Pfleuger hit a corner three to extend the ND lead and stem the Cardinals’ momentum.

– A lot of people are jumping on the anti-V.J. Beachem bandwagon, but don’t give up on him yet. Brey has ridden seniors throughout his career and he’s not going to be taking Beachem out of the starting line up. Beachem is clearly suffering from a lack of confidence, but he can break out at any point. Don’t be surprised if you see Beachem driving and being more aggressive Saturday vs. Clemson.

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– While last night’s game again got close after the Irish had built a double-digit lead, the difference between last night and the Villanova and Purdue games was that the Irish were able to get into the bonus early. Vasturia, Colson, and Farrell were rewarded for their aggressiveness with trips to the free throw line. The charity stripe is one of ND’s biggest weapons and getting their has to be a priority.

– T.J. Gibbs is becoming a bigger part of this team. His play warrants some more minutes and he is leaps and bounds ahead of where Demetrious Jackson was this time his freshman year.

– Austin Torres and Martin Geben don’t fill up the stat sheet, but man do they do the little things so well. Geben took three charges and was a force on the block on the defensive end. Torres came into the game and immediately infused some energy for the Irish with a steal and a few put backs.

– My biggest worry moving forward is Farrell not wearing down. He has the ball in his hands constantly and has already surpasses the number of minutes he’s played in the previous two years combined.

– The Irish return to action Saturday as ND hosts Clemson. The Tigers nearly upset UNC Tuesday night, look for a full preview on The Otter Room Friday.

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