Good win for the Irish as they took control early in the second half and never let it get too close the rest of way. However, we still haven't played a legitimately good team to date and some of the same issues continue to surface. Glad to put Loyola Marymount in the past and get a double-digit win over a rival, but this team's fate lies ahead in conference play.
With Tory Jackson focusing on the Bruins' only accomplished shooter (Michael Roll), Malcolm Lee had a career-high 29 by hitting four of his six three-point attempts. He entered the contest with a three-point percentage below thirty. Several of those made baskets were wide-open looks as the Irish D failed to actively rotate in a zone or was too slow to close out on the perimeter.
UCLA led for the majority of the first half and the game stayed tight through the break, but a quick 8-2 run after halftime put the Irish in charge the rest of the way. The one major positive in nonconference play is how Notre Dame has consistently improved in the second halves of games. Time will tell if that can continue against good competition.
Jackson did his best impression as a defensive stopper against Roll, but he gave up six inches just by stepping on the floor. That's a tough matchup, but we certainly didn't have any better options. On offense, Tory was a bit out of control, with 5 turnovers. He also offered up a bunch of wild shots, finishing four of twelve from the field. He was 29% inside the arc, partially due to the physical nature of the game under the hoop. He just isn't big enough to finish at the basket when a ref like Jim Burr is periodically swallowing his whistle.
Ben Hansbrough was very efficient. 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists. He made five of the seven shots he attempted and completed a very nice four-point play. Also chipped in with three steals, including one in transition that led to a Notre Dame fastbreak going the other way. He seems like a high-risk, high-reward player on D. He's certainly not consistent enough to be a lockdown defender, but gets his share of big plays. Tonight marks his fourth multiple steal game of the year, matching Kyle McAlarney's total from all of last season.
Tim Abromaitis had 17 points, shooting five of eight from the field. Add in 5 rebounds, a nice total from the small forward position. He collected three fouls, but a couple of those were a bit ticky-tack.
Ty Nash added in 11 points and 8 rebounds, 5 of which came on the offensive end. Every starter finished with double digit scoring, a great display of unselfishness on offense. This team does seem to have a greater ability to spread out the scoring than last year's outfit, which could make a difference if Big East teams decide to key in on Harangody.
Luke got his 23 points, but was quite frustrating to watch. I can't imagine a good reason for our All-American forward to be catching the basketball 25 feet away from the basket. He consistently attempted to generate the offense from the perimeter, which really limits the team's effectiveness. When he sticks to the inside, at least within a dribble and a spin move from the basket, he can be unstoppable.
Off the bench, Peoples had an effective sixteen minutes. 9 points and 3 rebounds. Carleton Scott only played eight minutes and had 3 rebounds and an assist without attempting a shot.
Nice win, but once again the Irish needed to make it a high-scoring contest. We'll see what happens against some good defenses.