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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: Irish Fall at South Carolina 65 to 53

Micah Shrewsberry’s squad took on the Gamecocks in the ACC/SEC Challenge, playing them tough for 30 minutes before crumbling down the stretch

Syndication: South Bend Tribune John Mersits / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team lost this evening as part of the ACC/SEC Challenge, falling to the South Carolina Gamecocks by a final score of 65 to 53 in Micah Shrewsberry’s squad’s first true road game of the season.

The Irish were led on the evening by Tae Davis, who scored 15 points while grabbing 8 rebounds. J.R. Konieczny (11 points), Julian Roper II (10 points, 6 rebounds), and Markus Burton (8 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) also chipped in, although Burton especially had a tough day offensively, scoring well below his 18 PPG average while shooting 2-of-8 from the field and turning it over 6 times.

ND shot an ice-cold 33% from the field and 29% from long range, lost the turnover battle, committed an astonishing 20 personal fouls, and narrowly out-rebounded their opponent 36-32. They also made just 13 of their 20 free throw attempts, leaving a nice chunk of points on the table.

The Gamecocks were paced on the night by guard Meechie Johnson, who finished the game with 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting (4/9 from 3-point range) while also adding 5 rebounds. Forward B.J. Mack (17 points, 4 rebounds) and guard Ta’lon Coopert (9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) also added nice games to South Carolina’s winning effort. Head Coach Lamont Paris’ team shot pretty poorly as well, finishing the game at 38% overall and hitting 28% from three-point range (7-for-25).

The first half was a bit of a roller coaster for both teams — Notre Dame jumped out to an 8-0 lead over the first few minutes, with Konieczny and Roper both hitting three-pointers to drive the run. The Irish immediately went cold after that, though, with South Carolina using an 8-3 run to quickly get back into it while ND went over 2 minutes without scoring. A 9-0 run from South Carolina put the Gamecocks up 17-13 at the under-8 timeout, as the Irish went on yet another scoring drought — this one lasting 4+ minutes.

Davis and Burton both hit threes for the Irish to cut the deficit to one, and then soon after Konieczny drained another long ball to tie the game at 24 with about 3 minutes to go in the half. Over the last few minutes, the team went back and forth, with the only difference being Johnson knocking down his third three of the period to give South Carolina a 31-28 lead at the intermission. Johnson had 15 of South Carolina’s 31 points in the first half, thanks to shooting 3-of-6 from deep.

In the second half, the Irish started out by managing to pick up 4 fouls in 2 minutes of play, but South Carolina didn’t do much to take advantage.

That opened the door for an 8-0 run by the Irish, with Shrewsberry hitting a three, Tae Davis converting a three-point play, and Kebba Njie knocking down a couple free throws to give ND a 38-34 lead. Davis’ and-one gave the Irish their first lead since the 11-minute mark of the first half.

The Gamecocks didn’t let the run discourage them, though, quickly evening up the score with a couple buckets of their own, and then rattling off a 13-1 run to seize control of the game and lead 51-41 at the under-8 media timeout.

A Davis three-point play helped stop the bleeding of ND’s 4+ minute stretch without a field goal, and Burton hitting 1-of-2 shots from the charity stripe made it 51-45 with 6 minutes to go. The Gamecocks answered with jumpers from Mack and Johnson, though, re-extending their lead to double digits with 4:49 to go in the game.

The Irish did their best to keep fighting over the final 4+ minutes, but just didn’t have the offensive firepower to do so, not to mention they were unable to get enough stops defensively to matter. The Gamecocks cruised over the final minutes to the 12-point victory.

With the loss, Notre Dame is now 3-3 on the season. They play next on Saturday, kicking off ACC play by traveling to Coral Gables to take on the 8th-ranked Miami Hurricanes, who were in action tonight against the 12th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, and at the time of publication were down double digits on the road against John Calipari’s young and talented team.