Notre Dame (13-12, 4-8) fans were waiting anxiously for Tuesday night's match up against the Clemson Tigers (15-8, 6-5) to finish. And it had nothing to do with the game.
After it was surprisingly announced that freshman Demetrius Jackson was not suiting up or in the building for the game, you can forgive those watching this nightmare season for expecting the worst.
Though his prized recruit is not out of the woods yet, head coach Mike Brey let us all rest easy tonight, citing Jackson's "poor academic habits" this semester for his likely extended stay out of the Irish uniform.
Brey continued to say that Jackson had a great academic record up until this point but will need to get his grades back up before he is allowed to return to the team. In a perfect world, that could happen "within the week" according to the head coach. He emphasized that Jackson is "very committed to Notre Dame", which hopefully eases any transfer speculation to Illinois in the short-term.
To editorialize briefly, I can certainly empathize with the young freshman, having had my own self-inflicted struggles in the classroom early on. I think we can all hope for the best for Jackson to right the ship and find success both on and off the court in South Bend.
As for the game itself, it went into double-overtime. That would usually qualify as the lede but was simply another source of frustration on Tuesday night. Notre Dame was something of an embarrassment down the stretch of regulation, letting a seven point lead with under three to play slip through their collective grasp. An Eric Atkins turnover with 24 seconds left and subsequent foul on the Clemson possession nearly turned a likely win into a buzzer-beating loss. A missed free-throw sent the game into overtime.
The Irish looked to have overtime in hand as well, forging ahead to a four point lead with just 24 seconds left. But a Clemson lay-in, Atkins double-dribble, and Pat Connaughton foul let the Tigers send the game into another overtime period.
Freshman Steve Vasturia hit two threes in the double-overtime period, which were enough on their own for Notre Dame to finally earn the victory.
Zach Auguste earned a double-double for his efforts today with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Garrick Sherman struggled after "possibly", according to Brey, breaking his right ring finger early on in the game.
I would be remiss not to mention the unbelievable game turned in by Tigers' junior forward K.J. McDaniels, who scored 30 of his team's 64 points on 13 of 24 shooting before fouling out in the double-overtime period.
Up next, Notre Dame heads to Chestnut Hill to visit the Boston College Eagles on Sunday for their 6 pm match up. Hopefully, before too long, we will all be seeing Demetrius Jackson back in the Irish lineup.
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