The TV announcers must have said it at least a dozen times each half: Notre Dame had not won in the state of Kentucky in 31 years. Thank God they don't have to ever say that depressing factoid again. The Irish marched into the brand new Louisville home arena (appropriately named YUM! KFC Arena) and stole a game in double overtime against the #10 ranked team in the country 67-65.
More on Notre Dame's first road win of the season after the jump.
Coming into tonight, 6 of the last 9 meetings between the Louisville Cardinals and Notre Dame Fighting Irish have gone to OT, but Rick Pitino's squad came into the game as heavy favorites against the visitors who was still winless on the road this season. But Mike Brey's motion offense, which has always given Pitino and his squad fits on defense, once again lived up to its expectations.
Brey once again went with Jack Cooley, Scott Martin, Alex Dragicevich, Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins as the starting unit, but the speed and athleticism of the game initially bothered Dragicevich - a player who needs his offense to get going early - and Brey turned to junior guard Joey Brooks who made the most of his 28 minutes, despite foul trouble throughout the game, particularly on the defensive end.
Cooley continued to play dominant inside basketball putting up 18 points and 10 boards while showing an array of moves and playing confidently on both sides of the ball, outplaying Gorgui Dieng the whole night. Martin, the team's lone active senior captain now, continued to struggle from the field, but played phenomenal defense all night and grabbed a game high 12 rebounds. Martin's performance included a game saving charge he took near the end of regulation which paved the way for the first OT.
The young Irish backcourt - Atkins and Grant - have become the main offensive options as of late, but they struggled from the field nearly the whole night until Atkins hit a couple shots at the end of regulation - including the game tying 3 - and Grant finally got a few jumpers to fall in the first OT. It seemed only appropriate that newly named captain Atkins closed the game out with 6 straight points.
"I think we saw a young team maybe grow up before our very eyes today," Mike Brey said. After beating down a ranked team at home 10 days ago and now getting a road win against a top 10 team, this young Irish squad continues to improve and prove that it will live up to its namesake - the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame improved to 10-6 (2-1 Big East) and will play host to USF on Tuesday.