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ND Hoops Picks Up Two Easy Wins

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The Notre Dame Men's Basketball team picked up two relatively easy wins over Fairleigh Dickinson and Mt. Saint Mary's to move to 9-1.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Although Notre Dame started slow in both games, the Irish were able to cruise to easy wins to improve to 9-1 before ACC play begins Saturday. The Irish followed a 75-57 win Saturday over Fairleigh Dickinson with a 93-67 win Tuesday against Mount Saint Mary's. There wasn't much to learn from the two games as the Irish continued to put away inferior opponents without much trouble. Importantly for ND, Zach Auguste looked to put his poor performance against Michigan State behind him as he averaged 15 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games. While he still struggled a bit scoring with his back to the rim, he was over 50% from the field in both games. Pat Connaughton also rebounded from his off night against the Spartans going 8-13 and leading the team in scoring against FDU. He scored just four points on four shots from the field in the Mt. St. Mary's game, but contributed on the glass and moving the ball on offense.

Fairleigh Dickinson:

On Saturday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion, the Irish beat Fairleigh Dickinson 75-57 behind strong performances from seniors Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. The game was much too close for comfort for much of the first half. The Irish led by just three points with just over five minutes remaining in the period. Notre Dame was able to stretch the lead to ten by halftime after two completed and-1s by sophomore Demetrius Jackson and a late three from Grant gave ND some breathing room. The Irish extended the lead throughout the second half, and Coach Brey was able to empty his bench in the final minutes of the game. In his postgame press conference, Brey noted that four teams had already been upset earlier in the day, most notably Michigan at home to NJIT, and that it was important for ND to not get complacent against the Knights. He also singled out Steve Vasturia for his defense on FDU guard Matt MacDonald who had scored 29 points in their previous game against Princeton. Vasturia held MacDonald to just nine points (five points below his season average) and 33.3% shooting. While the final score was a little closer than it probably should have been, it's not surprising for there to have been a bit of a hangover coming off the big win against Michigan State. Ultimately an 18 point victory will make little difference in the eyes of the selection committee.

Mount Saint Mary's:

The Irish overcame another slow start Tuesday night before running away from Mt. St. Mary's 93-67. Despite jumping out to a double digit lead before the under 16:00 timeout, the Mountaineers cut the lead to four points with some hot shooting from Coldplay's guard Chris Martin. Leading 22-18 coming out of the 12 minute timeout, the Irish flipped the switch and turned the small advantage into a 29 point lead at the under 4:00 break. During the 9:23 of game time between the media timeouts, ND scored on 13 of their 16 possessions for 28 points, and limited MSM to just four points on their fifteen trips up the floor. With the game out of reach, the Irish cruised the rest of the way and Brey began rotating his deeper bench players before the first half was even over. Every Notre Dame player was on the floor for at least five minutes, and if not for some bad offense down the stretch, the Irish would have easily cracked 100 points. Steve Vasturia had a perfect night shooting going 7-7 from the field, 3-3 from 3pt range, and 2-2 from the line for career high 19 points. In his postgame comments, Brey mentioned that he was hoping to see a more aggressiveness from Vasturia, and said that he might have "created a monster." Auguste and Grant also scored 19, and Jackson chipped in 15 for the Irish. After playing just seven minutes against Fairleigh Dickinson, Austin Torres played major minutes clocking 18 just short of his 19 minutes against the Spartans.

Notes:

  • Brey used a lot of 2-3 zone in both games, and mentioned that the Irish will need it as a change of pace in league play. He did say that he was worried about the team's ability to rebound while in zone, however.
  • After getting dominated on the boards against Michigan State, ND was +11 and +10 against FDU and MSM. Brey also said that rebounding was a point of emphasis in practice this week.
  • After beating ND two weeks ago, Providence seems determined to tank ND's RPI by losing their next three games to Kentucky (expected), Boston College (annoying), and Brown (rude).
  • After debuting the gold jerseys against Michigan State to mixed reviews (at least among the OFD Staff), ND was back in their standard home whites for both games.
  • Notre Dame entered the AP Poll Monday at #25. The team was the highest placed team in the "Also Receiving Votes" section of the Coaches Poll (behind Michigan State at #23 *cough**idiots**cough*).
  • Notre Dame currently leads the nation in FG% at 55.8%
  • The Irish start ACC play Saturday night at home against Florida State. The Seminoles are currently 4-4 with losses to common opponents UMass and Providence as well as Northeastern and Nebraska. Their wins have come against Manhattan, The Citadel, Charleston Southern, and UCF.