Notre Dame Holds on vs. FSU, Faces Duke in ACC Final


After a stellar first half performance, Notre Dame was able to make enough plays in the second half to hold on for a 77-73 victory over Florida State in the ACC Semifinals.

The Irish took control of the game in the final ten minutes of the first half and their lead grew to as big as 18 before they had to hold on in the waning minutes for the win.

This is the second win vs. Florida State this season and in both victories, the Seminoles had trouble matching up with out five-out offense. FSU was unable to use their significant height advantage and was forced to adjust to ND’s style.

Steve Vasturia and Bonzie Colson led the Irish with 18 points, while V.J. Beachem continued his strong performance on the glass as he led Notre Dame with seven rebounds.

The Irish will now face Duke, who defeated UNC is Friday’s first semifinal, in Saturday’s championship game.

Thoughts:

– FSU’s three-point defense leaves a lot to be desired against the Irish. In the first matchup in Tallahassee, ND converted 15 three-pointers and the Irish recorded 13 three pointers in Friday’s victory.

– It was nice to see Vasturia find his stroke again. It feels like we haven’t seen him consistently perform on the offensive end since the beginning of conference season. The senior finished with 18 points on 7-13 shooting, including 4-5 from three-point range. Don’t let him get hot.

– Like Thursday’s win over UVA, it was Notre Dame’s defense that propelled them to victory. FSU was able to get good looks in the second half, but the Irish kept the ‘Noles at bay in the first half and was able to turn FSU over and convert those fast-break opportunities.

– Even through the tougher times, The Otter Room has been the biggest Matt Ryan advocate and he came though big time Friday night. The sophomore tallied 11 points and was 3-4 from beyond the arc. He is a phenomenal shooter and he was able to put the ball on the floor to keep the defense honest vs. FSU.

– The Irish did a phenomenal job of taking care of the ball. Even when ND turned the ball over, it was a dead ball turnover and did not allow the FSU athletes to get out in transition.

– The role players Pflueger, Gibbs, and Geben continue to put together valuable contributions even if their playing time is limited. Even if it does not show in the box score, their contributions on the defensive end are invaluable.

– The question of the hour is do the Irish wear the green jerseys or ride the reliable gold jerseys Saturday night? The green unis look better, but you cannot deny to gold’s track record. As the higher seed, the ND captains have the call.

– With the win vs. Florida State, The Otter Room official bracket projections have the Irish solid at a No. 4 seed and could potentially move up a seed line with a win over Duke Saturday.

On To Duke:

– The Irish will look to avenge their 84-74 defeat at the hands of the Blue Devils at home earlier this year.

– As the Irish have built large leads in the latter half of the ACC schedule, Mike Brey has prided himself on his team’s ability to defend the three-point shot and that will be put to the test vs. Duke. The Irish have to chase Duke off the three-point line and force them to settle for two-point jumpers.

– The Blue Devils are among the best shooting teams in the country and their comeback vs. UNC Friday was largely fueled on the deep ball.

– One of the things the Irish have going for them is that Duke will be playing their fourth game in four days. Coach K sort of pulled a Lou Holtz in the postgame interview lamenting their fatigue and pondering how they would ever have the energy for a championship game. Sandbaggin’ sonofabitch like you read about.

– The Blue Devils have too many offensive weapons to fully contain, but the key will be limiting Jayson Tatum’s opportunities. Duke’s late season charge had coincided with Tatum’s emergence and if the Irish are able to defend him physically, that will go a long way towards an ACC Championship. Kennard, Allen, and Jackson are going to produce, but if the Irish can shut down Tatum, they will win the game

– Notre Dame has won four of their previous six meetings vs. Duke.

– Notre Dame’s defense has been a tremendous revelation in this tournament. They have played bigger than what they are listed on the roster. They have challenged shots in the post and contested outside attempts and that needs to continue Saturday.

– At the end of the day the Irish are going for their second ACC Championship in three years. If you would have told me that would be the case after the disappointing 2013-14 season, I wouldn’t believe you. Every ND fan should appreciate the run of the last three years of Irish basketball and they should appreciate the feeling of anticipation that every ND fan will feel tomorrow.

– Duke has more McDonald’s All-Americans, they’ll have the refs in their back pocket (because a North Carolina school has just one won of the last five ACC Tournaments and God forbid a school outside of Tobbaco Road should run the ACC), but this Notre Dame group is special. They’ve won in the March in the past and they expect to win tomorrow – they won’t be intimidated. Bet against the Irish at your own will. If you’re scared….get a dog.

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