Panic. Terror. Devastation. Hysteria.
You can forgive Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-5, 5-2) fans for fearing the worst after star point guard Demetrius Jackson went down early Saturday with a mysterious leg injury. You could also forgive a team for an underwhelming performance with their minds distracted with the potential loss of their best player.
But neither of these things were ultimately a concern by the second half, after Jackson had previously reemerged from the locker room with just a minor hamstring injury and his teammates proceeded to dominate the Boston College Eagles (7-12, 0-6) in his absence. The Irish were able to hold the Eagles to just 20 points in the second half en route to the 27-point victory.
The Irish had a very balanced attack without Jackson, as five players scored in double-digits in a very workmanlike performance overall. But the game was really won on the defensive end, where Notre Dame bounced back from an ugly effort Wednesday night against Virginia Tech and completely erased anything the Eagles tried to do on offense.
Zach Auguste, in particular, was very stout in the middle, holding Dennis Clifford to just 1 of 7 shooting and keeping their guards from any consistent success in the paint. Steve Vasturia was also excellent in holding BC's best player of late, Jerome Robinson, to just 2 of 11 shooting, as was freshman Rex Pflueger most of the afternoon on Eli Carter.
In addition to his defensive efforts, Pflueger set career-highs in minutes played (32) and points scored (11), and chipped in 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in a very valuable game to continue to assert him as a major rotation guy. Vasturia was also excellent running the show in the second half and finished with 16 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds.
V.J. Beachem bounced back with a cool 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting (although 0 of 4 from 3), Bonzie Colson was excellent carrying the offense in the first half and finished with 16, and Auguste had another double-double with 10 and 10 despite a rough start from the field.
Hopefully Jackson's injury will not keep him out against Syracuse on Thursday, and if so, it may have been a bit of a blessing in disguise to give the rest of his teammates an opportunity to step up against a terrible Boston College team.
A couple of notes: Notre Dame now has a 4 game winning streak despite being out-shot from three-point land by every opponent in those games. Their struggles from deep are not a welcome turnaround in ACC play. What is a welcome turnaround, however, is from the free-throw line, where the Irish shot 93% today (23 of 25) and 84% (87 of 104) during their winning streak.
Notre Dame will head to Syracuse to take on the Orange on Thursday evening with a chance to pick up a huge road win and move their winning streak to 5.