Despite an off night from Jerian Grant and two post players fouling out, #21 Notre Dame defeated Purdue 94-63 in the fourth edition of the Crossroads Classic at Banker's Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. ND trailed for much of the first half, and led by only seven at the break. In the second half, however, the Irish outscored Purdue 48-24 to give the Irish a comfortable win. Pat Connaughton had a great night on the glass against a huge Purdue front court helping the Irish out-rebound the Boilermakers 40-31. The senior also added 19 points, but had wasn't his usual self shooting, going 6/15 from the field. Demetrius Jackson picked up the slack for Grant, and had another fantastic game at point guard. He finished with a game high 22 points on 7/10 shooting. The sophomore guard was a perfect 3/3 behind the arc, and added a HUGE dunk on one of Purdue's seven footers as the Irish extended their lead in the second half. The referees were quick to whistle fouls inside which led to both Zach Auguste and Martinas Geben fouling out. Playing against much larger opponents, Austin Torres had another solid effort for ND. He finished with 11 points on 4/6 shooting and added three offensive rebounds. Jerian Grant uncharacteristically struggled with his shot going 3/13 for 10 points, but the senior guard added nine assists and two steals showing (like he has all season) that he's far more than just a scorer. The win moves the Irish to 11-1 with two games remaining in the non-conference schedule.
Demetrius Jackson looks like a McDonalds All-American
The sophomore guard had an incredible game and looks as good as any point guard in the country. Coach Mike Brey has talked about the sophomore becoming more of a leader in practice throughout the season, and praised Jackson's on ball defense as the key to the improved team defense this season. When the Irish needed him, Jackson made play after play this afternoon. With the game still close in the second half, Jackson blew past his defender and dunked over 7' center Issac Hays to give the momentum back to ND while Purdue was still hanging around. Notre Dame controlled the game the rest of the way, and Jackson added the exclamation point with a step-back three to finish his night. Defensively, Jackson had three steals and was inches from at least three more. With his partner in the backcourt struggling shooting the ball, Jackson made sure there was no drop-off in production for ND.
Austin Torres had another solid outing
Due to some very questionable foul calls in the post on Zach Auguste and Martinas Geben, Austin Torres got a lot of minutes off the bench. Auguste was whistled for his fifth foul with over ten minutes left in the game, and Geben picked up his five fouls in just eight minutes of game action. The quick whistles did not go unnoticed by the Big Ten Network commentators, and ESPN's Jay Bilas who both were astounded by calls against Auguste. Trailing by 12, Purdue had to like their chances with the best Irish big man fouled out with 10:44 remaining. Thankfully for ND, Torres was effective against the Purdue bigs and managed to avoid fouls in his 13 minutes of action. A number of people thought Torres's scholarship was just a throw-in to secure Jackson's commitment, but the Austin's play has shown that he can be an important contributor for the Irish. Austin Burgette also had a nice game off the bench in his 11 minutes. The Irish bench is considered a weakness, but it didn't look like it tonight scoring 22 points.
Notre Dame's Zach Auguste awarded his fifth foul for (a) being in the game and (b) breathing near his defensive assignment. Wow.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) December 20, 2014
Steve Vasturia doesn't have bad games
Sophomore Steve Vasturia had another great "glue" game for the Irish. The guard finished with 11 points on 5/8 shooting, and didn't have a turnover. While his play rarely jumps out at you, Vasturia rarely makes mistakes and always seems to finish with right around 10 points while playing solid defense. Against Purdue, Vasturia hit a huge corner three to give the Irish the lead at 29-27 towards the end of the first half. The sophomore was also able to use the threat of his three point shot to get his defender in the air and get to the rim. The sophomore also helps the team in less obvious ways. When Jackson went to the bench for a breather, Steve served as the primary ball-handler for the Irish. Vasturia handling the ball allows Grant to play off the ball in his more natural position rather than moving to the point. Lastly, Brey frequently praises the sophomore's defense, and once again Vasturia was a big part the Irish holding Purdue under 40% from the field. Things like this don't show up in the box score, but they will undoubtedly help the Irish compete for a top finish in the ACC.
INFOGRAPHIC: ND 94 - Purdue 63 FINAL ND Notes: -Irish out score Boilers 48-24 in 2nd half -6 players in double-figs pic.twitter.com/hyxIgL2GNw— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) December 21, 2014
- With ND's win over Purdue, and Butler's loss to Indiana, the Irish and Bulldogs are now tied at 3-1 for best all time record in the Crossroads Classic. Purdue remains winless in the event.
- Despite fouling out, Auguste was effective offensively for Notre Dame shooting 5/8 from the field for 10 points. He continues to play better on the pick and roll and in transition than in the post, but he did have at least one nice move on Haas for an and-1. The ND offense doesn't need Zach to be great with his back to the basket and definitely doesn't want him to be a black hole, but it is nice to see him be effective against a bigger defender in the post.
- Despite the questionable calls inside, Auguste and Geben need to do a better job of adjusting to officiating and playing with fouls. Both Purdue seven footers battled foul trouble, but they managed to avoid fouling out.
- All 12 players that dressed for the Irish appeared in the game as Brey emptied his bench with two minutes left in the game to get everyone into the game. Matt Gregory notched his fourth trillion of the season.
- With the Purdue big men challenging shots inside, ND was a little below their season average from the field. The Irish still shot better than 50% going 33/64 (51.6%) from the field. The 8/17 (47.1%) from behind the arc was a little better than the season average of 40.9%.
- VJ Beacham was still out with his foot injury, but Coach Brey said in his weekly conference call that the forward was starting to participate in non-contact portions of practice. The coaching staff hopes to have him back in time for the Georgia Tech game January 3rd.
- Brey also mentioned that he expects college basketball to move to a 30 second shot clock next season, and thinks the move would help ND.