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Irish Sneak By DePaul In Overtime

For the second straight game, 40 minutes wasn’t enough for the Notre Dame men’s basketball. And for the second consecutive time against Big East Conference foe DePaul, an extra frame was required. Just as they did on Feb. 2 in Chicago, the Fighting Irish escaped with an overtime victory over the Blue Demons, this time with an 82-78 win at home Wednesday night.

Jerian Grant led the Irish with 21 points in an overtime win against visiting DePaul

Notre Dame improved to 20-5 overall and 8-4 in league play, making it a program record seventh 20-win season in a row for Irish head coach Mike Brey. With Connecticut knocking off league-leading and sixth-ranked Syracuse Wednesday, 66-58, the congestion at the top of the Big East standings is now thicker. Syracuse, Georgetown and Marquette are all tied for first with 8-3 records, with the Irish tied with Syracuse for the fourth spot.

Coming off a five-overtime win over visiting Louisville Saturday, the Irish led by as many as 14 points in the first half before 10 turnovers and an extended shooting drought in the second period helped a scrappy DePaul outfit rally back and eventually take the lead near the end of regulation.

"I'm thrilled we escaped that one," Brey said. "But really give DePaul credit. They're hard to guard for us. They were in Chicago, and we had to escape. And they were in the second half tonight also. Their ball pressure defensively really rattled us, and we couldn't get much in the second half — the combination of both. I'm very proud of my team.

"Given everything they did Saturday night, to be on the ropes again and dig out another one, that's really as big a win as Saturday. When you can turn around and dig one out when it doesn't look good at times. But we certainly have been in that situation a few times. When we came into the huddle, we've been there done that, sitting there getting ready to play another overtime."

The Blue Demons (10-14, 1-10), which trailed for the majority of the contest, went on an 11-1 run when the Irish had gone nearly six minutes without a field goal. DePaul took a 60-58 advantage after a Cleveland Melvin jumper and kept the lead with a Crockett 3-pointer.

Notre Dame junior guard Jerian Grant completed a 3-point play, followed up by classmate Eric Atkins triple to swing the advantage back in the home team’s favor, 66-63, with just over three minutes remaining in the second half. DePaul tied it up with a deep shot by Melvin and a free throw by Young with 51.8 seconds left. Notre Dame wasted two opportunities for potentially game-winning shots when poor attempts from Atkins and Grant late in the shot clock missed their marks.

In overtime, Irish sophomore guard Pat Connaughton, who played 30 minutes on an ankle he sprained Saturday, drilled a 3-pointer and made two foul shots, Grant added another 3-point play and the Irish went 9-for-11 from the foul line to put the game away. The Irish shot 39.1 percent in the second half (9-for-23) from the field, 75 percent (3-for-4) in overtime and finished exactly 50 percent for the game (28-for-56).

Four days after lifting his team in the final minute of regulation against the Cardinals with a 12-point outburst, Grant ended the game with a team-high 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Senior forward Jack Cooley chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds and Atkins notched 13 points and nine assists.

"It's tough coming off that five-overtime game, but a win is a win," Grant said. "DePaul, their record won't say it, but they're a good time and they can score the ball. When they're in transition they're one of the best teams in the BIG EAST.

"... "It was really important [to get back-to-back wins]. Just coming off that game, we could've been tired and just said we'll let one get away. For this team to come back and go into another overtime and pull it out is definitely mentally tough."

Melvin played all 40 minutes for DePaul and registered a game-high 23 points, followed by Brandon DeYoung, who was 3-for-4 from behind the arc en route to 20 points, and Donnavan Kirk (16).

The Irish, happy to "survive and advance," Brey said, outscored DePaul 21-4 at the foul line, 14-6 in second-chance points, 20-7 in bench points and outrebounded the Blue Demons 44-25.

"Somebody said, 'Well, are you going to rest Connaughton Wednesday and save him for the weekend?' said Brey, eluding to how difficult it is to win against any team in the highly competitive Big East. "I said, 'What?' I said, 'I need all my guys in this league.' Our margin for error, as you've seen, it's like this [holds up fingers close together]. We need all hands on deck, so everything is survive and advance. That's why we were burning one time. We'll do everything we need to do to get a league win. I don't care if it's against a team that's 8-2 or 2-8. Just do what you've got to do to get a league win."

Notre Dame showed no signs of weary legs from its marathon bout with Louisville Saturday — at least not in the first half — getting everyone involved and capitalizing on defensive stands to build 43-32 advantage at the break. The Irish shot 55.3 percent in the first 20 minutes, including a 3-for-6 effort from behind the arc and 8-for-10 at the foul line. Grant led the way with nine points, Cooley added eight and six boards and Atkins chipped in eight points and six assists. Freshman reserve forward Cameron Biedscheid was 2-for-3 from the field and 3-for-4 at the stripe for seven points and classmate Zach Auguste (forward) and senior center Garrick Sherman combined for 4-for-5 shooting with four points apiece.

After trading the lead for the first few minutes, an Atkins triple tied things up at 10-10 and the game remained tight for the next several possessions. Biedscheid got a home bounce on a long jumper, Cooley hit a pair of free throws and Grant was good on two charity attempts to kick off a 25-16 run to finish the half. Notre Dame, which heads to Providence Saturday, won the battle on the boards through the first 20 minutes (21-11).

  • I know most people weren't able to watch the game (I got it on the MSG network). I guess you have to give the team the benefit of the doubt and figure they had some tired legs in the second half, plus DePaul was very energized defensively, and had some big efforts from Melvin and Young, but this is two OT outings this year against the Big East cellar dwellers. That's not good. I have no illusions about this being a Final Four team, but I see some recurring problems. Every team defends Atkins fiercely inside the half court line. He already walks the ball up the court most of the time, so that motion, such as it is, doesn't start until the shot clock is down to twenty, or less. Too often, the clock gets inside of ten with no viable options. Brey is ten times smarter than I am, maybe more, but I don't know why he thinks they have to milk the clock on nearly every possession. Maybe it's because he has only two options at the guard position, and doesn't want to wear them down with more motion and urgency in the offense. I know they've won twenty and are ranked, but the quality of wins has not been overly impressive. The flip side is that it's possible that twenty wins at this point might actually be overachieving. I just keep waiting for the spark I saw the past two years. Maybe it will ignite just before the Big East tournament.

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    I may not be pretty, but I'm fast..... POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11

  • Good to see Grant finally playing with some confidence...We had a chance to open it up early in the 2nd half, but couldn't put them away...big game on Saturday, Providence has won 3 straight and has played teams tough all year long

  • Ham and IrishRule : I couldn't see the game. Thanks for the insights. This is a puzzling team.

    This post was edited by irishm 14 months ago

  • Well a win is always good but going into OT back to back with 5 games left leaves me wondering if fatigue is going to be a factor soon . I didn't see the game and I haven't seen ND much this season but what I'm reading leaves me feeling that this squad, while winning 20 games, is not putting it all together. I felt more positive about last years squad at similar points in the season and felt this years team was going to bust out(I know 20 wins - whata you want Irish13 25-0?) Anyone else getting the same vibes?? Always GO IRISH!

    This post was edited by irish13 14 months ago

  • Thank you Ham and +1. I have constantly wondered why we don't push the ball more. I too am not the Coach and I trust he has his reasons why we are more of a slow clock killing offense, but I just can't help but wonder how we would look pushing the ball. I didn't see tonight's game but the updates provided by Wes had me almost happy I wasn't watching. Brey is right though this conference has tough games up and down it. Reminds me alot of our football team sometimes. We beat Oklahoma impressively but almost lost to Pitt. Same here. We didn't whoop Louisville but got the job done then narrowly escape depaul. All we can hope for IMO is too get a decent seed in the dance and see what happens. Not even necessarily a good seed but good matchups for us. I am not saying we are going Final Four just saying maybe this team can pull a couple upsets off.

  • I don't think that this team is one that can play at a very fast rate. Frankly we don't handle the ball well when we play speed-up ball and we end up turning it over or getting shots smothered in the paint.
    We also tend to forget we have Cooley down low who got precious few touches in the second half. We have two low post players with height advantages this game....USE THEM.
    This is getting to be a too oft repeated theme this season; extended scoring droughts, sloppy ball handling, poor foul shooting, and an inability to put teams away when you have your foot on their throat.
    Brey knows he was extremely lucky to win tomight and we should have no illusions about this team. A flawed team that can play with most or lose to anybody. But except for very few teams, isn't that the overall landscape of college ball this year?

  • We will take the win but it was sloppy. Our guards just can't seem to handle pressure for extended periods of time. I just want this team to make the tourney, i have no illusions of them doing anything if they get there. Too many holes right now. We shouldn't have to "escape" twice against an awful Depaul team. But it beats the alternative,lol.

    Two time Poster of The Week, 2011 and 2013.

  • I agree with you, Scott, but the problem is that when they don't push the ignition button until there is less than twenty seconds left, they wind up having to play at that problematic fast rate, and how many times have we seen Atkins or Grant try to drive past two or three guys with under ten seconds left, and wind up with that same result you're talking about -- turning it over or getting shots smothered in the paint. My problem is that there is very little movement in the offense for the first fifteen seconds of possession, and quite often, a legitimate look at the basket is ignored in the interest of more ball movement. I'm all for ball movement, but if you pass up a good look and wind up forcing a bad one, or turning it over, what have you gained? And, yes, Cooley needs to get the ball down low.

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    I may not be pretty, but I'm fast..... POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11

  • There was 0 energy in the building last night which didn't help. Was glad to see Sherman, Auguste, and Beidchied work into the regular rotation. We missed too many FTs down the strech that would have won it in regulation. Not sure why Grant didn't drive or dump it to Cooley inside on the final possession of regulation instead of settling for a low percentage fade away jumper. Survive and advance and we are a 1/2 game out of first place with a great shot at getting a double-bye in the BE tourney.
    Go Irish!!!

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    My luck w/the Irish 20-6...GO IRISH!!!

  • ND's game winning shot selection has always been this. Guard dribble around, wait for the shock clock to wind down, throw up a crappy fade away jumper with no time for a rebound. Which is mind boggling when you have a good inside game.

    I think the next 5 games are really going to be tough. There are no gimme's and everyone with the exception of Providence is close in the standings. Louisville at the Yum center is going to be interesting. It's going to be a crazy finish.

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