Very good win against a team that could be knocking on the door of the Tournament in a month. Things could have fallen apart when South Florida took the lead in the second half, but the Irish pulled things together and gutted out a very important win.
After a 16-2 run to start the game, ND let the Bulls get back into the contest over the next fourteen minutes, finally tying it up at the half. In the second period, South Florida threatened to break open a tight game, taking a six point lead with ten minutes remaining. Instead of buckling to the pressure, the Irish responded with six straight points of their own.
Offensive efficiency down the stretch was the key. Scoring at least two points on six straight possessions put Notre Dame ahead by five with a minute remaining and some clutch free throws by Harangody at the end gave this game its final margin. The Irish made their final ten attempts from the charity stripe, taking care of business when they needed to.
Hats off to Tory Jackson for a great defensive effort on Dominique Jones. The conference player of the year candidate who hadn't scored less than 20 in nine straight games was held to just ten points on 3-17 shooting. Tremendous job, Tory. On offense, Jackson scored 18 himself and dished out 4 assists. 4-5 from the line for a guy who is only shooting 61% on the year.
Ben Hansbrough was pretty efficient. 13 points, 6 rebounds. Like Tory, he played 39 minutes. Our backcourt is going to be on life support by the end of the season if they continue to play entire games.
Abro scored less than ten for only the third game this season. That should underline what a great year the breakout junior has been having. To be honest, it was still a pretty good performance by Tim, but he only had six shot attempts for the afternoon.
Ty Nash was very effective on the glass, which should be his first priority in every game. I'll take 8 rebounds in 24 minutes, even if that means he is using a little extra energy and only winding up with one basket of his own.
Harangody finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds. However, he did have a couple stretches where he decided to jack up jumpers early in the shot clock. I was impressed with his effort on the boards, as he tied his season-high. It would have been very interesting to see him matched up against Gilchrist, but the Irish were fortunate enough to avoid playing him in both contests this year.
Off the bench, Peoples logged 20 minutes. There is absolutely no reason for him to get that much playing time when our guards are not getting any rest. He is taking time away from Abromaitis and Nash, when Carleton Scott and Jack Cooley are better fits at those respective positions. Scott played nine minutes with not a lot to show for it. Cooley got in for a few seconds, as well.
On to Seton Hall. Tory will certainly have his hands full again, this time with Jeremy Hazell.