The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team played its first game without star F BONZIE COLSON this evening, and also managed to lose star PG Matt Farrell in the first half to an ankle injury.
That’s 37.8 points per game, or nearly half the team’s scoring, lost.
Seems like a couple things that would make winning against ANY ACC opponent impossible, no?
Don’t tell the rest of the Notre Dame team that, as the expanded rotation of young players rallied around their fallen senior leaders to convincingly and embarrassingly defeat the NC State Wolfpack 88 to 58 on a snowy night in South Bend, giving head coach Mike Brey his 394th victory at Notre Dame as he surpassed legendary coach Digger Phelps for most wins as ND men’s basketball coach.
The Irish were led by TJ Gibbs (22 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and DJ Harvey, who scored 17 points (6-of-9 shooting) filling in as starter for COLSON.
Rex Pflueger chipped in 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, and Martinas “The Bird Whisperer” Geben added a double-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds, and about a million dunks. The Irish shot 52% from the field and 44% from deep (11-of-25), while also downing 19 of 25 free throws and out-rebounding NC State 41-30.
The Irish came out to start the game with a lot of energy, with sophomore guard TJ Gibbs knocking down a three to get things going and then DJ Harvey, starting in place of COLSON, draining a three a few possessions later.
Before the first media timeout, Rex Pflueger began to put on a brief clinic, throwing down an alley-oop from Farrell before getting another bucket just moments later after stealing a lazy NC State pass. At the first media timeout, the Irish led 12-7 and the sparse crowd (due to the weather) was making a little noise.
As the first half continued, fans were treated to a ridiculous Farrell shot-clock-buzzer-beating three, a couple Martinas Geben dunks, more Farrell threes, occasional NC State buckets, some Djogo and Harvey dunks in transition, and Farrell rediscovering his unbelievable passing prowess.
With less than 10 minutes to play in the half, Farrell went down with a turned ankle and had to limp off the floor. The team responded well, though, with a lineup of Gibbs, Pflueger, Djogo, Harvey, and Geben, and with Gibbs and Pflueger hitting back-to-back threes to make it 39-26 with 4:30 to play.
The Irish extended that lead to 41-26 and then 46-32 before the Wolfpack got a couple buckets and a couple stops to end the half, leading to the halftime score of 48 to 36 with the Fighting Irish in the lead without BONZIE COLSON and now, without Matt Farrell.
The second half saw Farrell not warm up prior to it, and sitting on the bench during it. The ND team came out strong defensively, though, as NC State went the first 4:53 of the half without scoring a point, and 9:45 without a field goal.
Meanwhile, the Irish continued to extend their lead behind Gibbs, Harvey, and Pflueger, and found themselves up 65-40 at the 10-minute mark.
The rest of the game was fairly uneventful (save for an Austin Torres and-one that included a MADE FREE THROW that got the bench and crowd on their feet), with the Irish more or less maintaining their mid-twenties-point lead for the rest of the half before finally pushing it in the end to make it a 30-point win.
NC State was led by Allerik Freeman with 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Lennard Freeman scored 10, Torin Dorn added 9 points and 5 rebounds, and Braxton Beverly had 8 points and 5 assists. The Wolfpack shot an abysmal 27% from the field and an even worse 18% from deep.
With the loss, the Wolfpack fall to 10-5 (0-2 ACC). Meanwhile, the Irish improve to 12-3 (2-0 ACC) on the season, and will play Syracuse (12-3, 1-1 ACC) at Syracuse this Saturday at 3:15 PM ET.