Notre Dame was one of two (Valparaiso) of the only Indiana Division 1 Schools to be undefeated up to Thursday night. #3 Michigan State proved to be a very challenging test on the road, as the #5 Irish fall in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge 81-63.
First Half Summary
The opening half started out kind of slow for the Irish, who finally picked up the pace in the final minutes. From the opening minutes, Notre Dame somewhat buried themselves into a 9-2 hole which was hard to escape from. That hole eventually became 24-8 then 31-11, meaning a big deficit for the Irish. I know as crazy as it sounds, the shooting was not the problem it was more on the defensive effort. The Irish allowed a tremendous amount of second-chance looks that the Spartans scored on, which also resulted in less time of possession. Notre Dame was down 46-26 going into the break.
Second Half Summary
The final half of action did draw close for Notre Dame; however, they were playing catchup for the entire second half. The Irish had a chip on their shoulder to start the half, opening on a 16-4 scoring run bringing them within eight down only 50-42. Notre Dame did come within single digits and ten points for the next seven minutes when Michigan State pulled away for good. The Spartans went on an 18-10 run to close out the half and ultimately win the game.
Top Individual Performances
Bonzie Colson: 36 minutes, 17 points (6/19 FG, 1/4 3PT, 4/4 FT), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 steals, 4 blocks
Rex Pflueger: 31 minutes, 15 points (6/7 FG, 3/4 3PT), 3 assists, 2 steals
TJ Gibbs: 36 minutes, 11 points (4/11 FG, 2/4 3PT, 1/4 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Matt Farrell: 38 minutes, 10 points (4/8 FG, 2/5 3PT), 1 rebound, 7 assists
Notre Dame put up your average shooting splits, good enough to beat a lot of teams except this tough Spartans team. The Irish shot 24-54 (44.4%) on field goals, 8-18 (44.4%) on three-pointers, and 7-10 (70.0%) on free throws. Michigan State was not much better, shooting 31-60 (51.7%) on field goals, 9-21 (42.9%) on deep shots, and 10-14 (71.4%) from the charity stripe.
Rebounding was a bit of a different story than the shooting numbers. Notre Dame only grabbed 21 total rebounds including 5 on offense and 16 on defense. Michigan State hauled in 42 total rebounds with 15 on offense and 27 on defense. The Spartans numbers were far superior to Notre Dame’s, who’s usually pretty good at grabbing boards.
Everywhere else on the scoreboard, Notre Dame assisted 16 times, stole the ball 8 times, rejected 6 shots, all while only committing 10 turnovers. The numbers unbelievably were better for Notre Dame than most times. Both the steals and blocks were noticeable upticks from their last time out on the court when they faced Wichita State. The 10 turnovers also showed a big difference from other games, making fewer mistakes.
Notre Dame will try to get things back on track with a home game against St. Francis (BKN) on Sunday at 2:00 PM Eastern. The Irish open with a 98.6% chance of winning according to the ESPN Basketball Power Index.