The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-4) took on the #18/#20 Indiana Hoosiers (9-0) Saturday afternoon in the Crossroads Classic held in Indianapolis. The Hoosiers came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the country after defeating then #1 Kentucky 73-72 with Christian Watford's buzzer beating 3 pointer which resulted in the first great court-storming of the season. Needless, to say Notre Dame had their hands full, especially in a "neutral site" which was all but neutral.
It was an ugly affair as both teams shot poorly for most of the night, but it was the higher ranked team that made just enough plays to make the final push down the stretch as the Hoosiers downed the Irish 69-58.
The Irish started their 8th different starting lineup with Jack Cooley, Scott Martin, Alex Dragicevich, Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins. Cooley- who posted 22 points and 12 rebounds in each of his last two games- had the difficult task of matching up again freshman phenom Cody Zeller - the youngest brother of former Irish big man Luke Zeller and current Tar Heel senior Tyler Zeller. Zeller had a game high 21 points and 8 rebounds showing the skill and maturity of a much older player and proving why he may indeed be the best of the three 7 footers in his family.
Notre Dame got off to a hot start taking a 15-6 lead keyed by three 3 pointers by Dragicevich but a cold streak hit the Irish as the Hoosiers took the lead 18-17 with 6:14 left in the first half. The Hoosiers never looked back as they maintained a lead throughout the rest of the game.
Rebounding was once again an issue for the Irish who lost the battle on the boards 40-28, allowing offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities at the most inopportune times.
Co-captain Scott Martin excelled on defense most of the night- holding Indiana's hero against Kentucky, Christian Watford, to just 9 points- but struggled to find his shot on offense yet again putting only 6 points on the board. As a result the Irish once again had to rely on their young guards to carry their offense, and while they did what they could - Atkins had 15 and Grant had 14 - it was not enough to topple the Hoosiers in their de-facto home court.
The Irish host Sacred Heart on Monday before beginning conference play against Pitt on the 27th.