The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team recovered nicely from their blowout loss to Auburn in the opening round of the Legends Classic on Thursday night, beating the Oklahoma State Cowboys by a final score of 66 to 64 in an ugly, overtime-decided consolation game on Friday.
The Irish shot better from the field and seemed to play a bit better defense in this one, and with a Cowboys opponent that was a major step down in competition from Auburn, they were able to pull out a nice victory to build confidence and add another win during a season when they may be hard to come by, especially once ACC play begins.
ND was led on the day by Markus Burton, who scored 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field. Julian Roper II added 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists, and J.R. Konieczny chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds for yet another double-double. As a team, the Irish shot 42% from the field and did a better job from long range than their last game, shooting 32% from deep after going 2-for-24 from beyond the arc on Thursday against the Tigers. They also narrowly lost the rebounding battle 37-38, and committed 16 turnovers to the Cowboys’ 12.
Oklahoma State was paced in scoring by Javon Small, who scored 29 points and also added 10 rebounds. John-Michael Wright (11 points) and Quion Williams (8 points, 11 rebounds) also turned in nice games in the losing effort. Overall, the Cowboys shot 36% from the field and struggled especially from three, going 5-for-25 from distance.
The Irish started this one much stronger than the night prior, using a couple early Carey Booth three-pointers to set the tone. They used a 12-0 run later in the half and 6/16 shooting from deep in the half to build an 8-point halftime lead.
In the second half, Oklahoma State made a run in the early going to cut their deficit to just 3, but the Irish responded with a 10-3 run to build their lead back to double-digits. The Irish went into a drought right after that, though, missing 8 shots in a row while the Cowboys chipped away at the lead, making it 50-47 at the 7:03 mark after Small was fouled while shooting a three.
From there, it was a tight one for a while, with the Irish clinging to a 4-6 point lead for the next few minutes, finding little to no success offensively with various possessions ending in turnovers, offensive fouls, and shot clock violations and going scoreless for the final 4 minutes of play.
With just under a minute remaining, Small finally helped the Cowboys capitalize on the Irish’s late drought, making a three to cut the ND lead to just 1. After Oklahoma State forced yet another shot clock violation, they had a possession with 24 seconds to play in regulation and a chance to take the lead.
The Cowboys managed to draw a foul and earn a couple free throws after Small, who’d scored the last 16 points for his team, made a nice pass to Eric Dailey Jr. to set up his layup attempt that drew the foul. The freshman hit one of two free throws, Burton missed a fallaway jumper on the other end, and the game headed to overtime tied at 55.
Oklahoma State opened overtime by scoring on their first two possessions, while the Irish continued to go scoreless on the other end until Tae Davis finally broke the 5+ minute drought with an and-one bucket on an aggressive drive to the hoop. He missed the free throw, though, and picked up his 5th foul on the ensuing loose ball rebound.
The Cowboys threatened to pull away after that, but a 3-point play by Burton followed by another drawn foul and a couple free throws gave the Irish a 63-62 lead with 1:35 to go. On the ensuring possession, Burton played fantastic defense on Small, forcing him to travel and turn the ball over back to the Irish. Unfortunately, yet another shot clock violation by the Irish (their 8th of the game) gave the ball right back to the Cowboys with a chance to retake the lead with 39 seconds to play.
The Irish played some good defense on the possession, though, forcing a missed contested three, and winning possession after a jump ball that occurred on the scramble to corral the long rebound. J.R. Konieczny hit two free throws after an OSU foul, and the Irish then fouled Small to prevent a chance for them to hit a game-tying three.
The Irish move to 2-2 on the season and will play next on Wednesday night, when they host the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks at Purcell Pavilion. That game will tip off at 7:00 PM ET and can be watched/listened to on ACCNX and the Notre Dame Radio Network.