The Irish managed to win another tight game on the road in ACC play, beating the North Carolina State Wolfpack 81-78 in overtime. The Irish trailed the Wolfpack by 12 at halftime, and were behind by as many as 18 points during the first half. Much like the game against Miami last weekend, the Irish started ice cold making just one of their 11 three-point attempts in the first half. NC State, meanwhile shot 18/29 in the first half to build their lead. The Irish were also without senior Pat Connaughton for a big chunk of the half as he picked up two fouls in the first seven minutes of the game. Reserve forward Beejay Anya finished three straight possessions for NC State with dunks to give the Pack and 18 point lead late in the first half. With the crowd fired up, and with the momentum squarely on the side of NC State, the Irish managed to cut the lead to 12 by halftime. Connaughton beat the buzzer on a tip-in after Vasturia missed a three-point attempt and Auguste missed his own putback attempt.
On the other side of the break, the Irish finally started making shots. Steve Vasturia, Connaughton, and Jerian Grant each hit threes to start the second half, and ND finally started to chip away the lead. Before the under 12:00 timeout, the Irish took their first lead of the game on a Zach Auguste bucket. The game remained close the rest of the way, with neither team holding a lead of greater than five points. With 22 seconds to go, Demetrius Jackson finished at the rim to cut the NC State lead to two. The Irish defense came up huge forcing an NC State turnover giving the Irish a chance to tie the game with 16 seconds to go. Jerian Grant took the ball into the lane, but missed his shot to tie the game. Connaughton got the offensive board, but missed his putback attempt as well. Luckily for ND, VJ Beacham was in the right place at the right time and was able to tip in the miss to tie the game with less than two seconds remaining. NC State was called for an offensive foul on their long inbounds attempt and gave the Irish a chance to win in regulation. Connaughton threw his best fastball to Grant who nearly drained his shot from just across half court.
With ND holding a four point lead late in OT, Connaughton fouled out on a questionable foul going up for a defensive rebound. Caleb Martin hit both free throws to cut the lead to two points. Grant held the ball to drain the clock, and missed a long three point attempt on the last Irish possession. Demetrius Jackson grabbed the long rebound, and was immediately fouled. After badly missing the first attempt, Jackson drained the second to extend the lead to three. Trevor Lacey tried to tie the game for the Wolfpack, but Grant blocked his first attempt, and the second rimmed out (although it looked like it wouldn't have counted anyway) giving the Irish the game. The win moves the Irish to 19-2 and 7-1 in ACC play.
Good Grant Again
The senior guard had another good night scoring for the Irish. Although he struggled a bit shooting the three, he finished with 25 points on 17 shots from the field. The senior also finished 9/11 from the free throw line and dished out four assists. The Irish also leaned on the senior guard early in the game when not much else was working offensively. Defensively, Grant's block in the games dying seconds helped seal the win. While they won't be guarding each other on the court, we'll see two of the favorites for ACC Player of the Year on Wednesday when Jahlil Okafor comes to South Bend with Duke.
Zach Auguste Came Up Big on the Boards
Zach Auguste had his first double-double since his return to the team following his academic issue. The junior played 36 minutes for the Irish, scored 10 points, and added 11 rebounds (one short of his career high). Auguste's work on the glass contributed to ND's 43-34 rebounding edge including an 18-12 edge on offensive boards. Zach also had a HUGE block in the first half that can be seen in the FIDM Highlight Video below. If the Irish are to beat Duke and Okafor on Wednesday, they'll need Auguste to have another strong effort on the boards.
- While it's good to see the Irish come back again, the slow starts are a little worrying. ND started slow against Miami and Georgia Tech as well as today to make it three in four games. The slow starts can be blamed on poor outside shooting, but the Irish need to find other ways to score when they go cold from deep.
- VJ Beacham bounced back from his poor game against Virginia Tech going 4/8 from the field and 2/4 from three in 20 minutes of action. He also added four rebounds, none bigger than the one preceding the game tying tip-in.
- Despite being in foul trouble, senior guard Pat Connaughton finished with 11 points on 4/9 shooting and 2/5 on three point attempts. FIDM focused on Pat's play during the VT game and can be seen here.
- The Irish had 5 players in double figures, and Vasturia finished with 9. Steve had an off night shooting going just 3/10 from the field and 1/6 from downtown.Steve did have a big shot-clock beating layup late in OT to extend the Irish lead to four.
- This is the first time in school history that ND is 4-0 in road conference games. The 19-2 start is also the best start for the Irish since WWII.
- Duke comes to South Bend on Wednesday after they came back from a big deficit against St. Johns this afternoon to give Coach K his 1000 win. OFD will have a gamethread for 7:30 ET tip.
GIVE US TWO CLAPS AND A RIC FLAIR! - WOOOO!! FINAL INFOGRAPHIC #8 ND 81 - NCSU 78 ND now 4-1 when trailing @ HT pic.twitter.com/IykHK2Vxon— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) January 26, 2015