Oct. 28, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 22nd-ranked Notre Dame men’s basketball team handled its first opponent of the season, the University of Indianapolis, Monday evening inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Fighting Irish topped the Greyhounds 95-69 in their exhibition opener.
The Irish had to battle back early as UIndy scored the first five points before Notre Dame netted its first basket. By the first media timeout, the Irish had tied it at 9-9, but UIndy would regain its five-point lead two more times in the opening half.
It was with 8:19 left in the first half that senior point guard Eric Atkins stepped to the line and made a free throw to put the Irish ahead, 24-23. After that, there was no looking back for the Irish as they cruised to a 20-point lead (48-28) by halftime.
Notre Dame continued its run in the second half, never letting UIndy get closer than 13 points. Toward the middle of the period, Garrick Sherman, junior Pat Connaughton and sophomore Austin Burgett combined to put up seven unanswered points to push the Irish lead to 23 (65-42). Notre Dame’s largest lead of the game was a 28-point margin (90-62) with 3:40 remaining.
The last Irish points of the night came from freshman – and local product – Demetrius Jackson, who deposited a free throw and then made a layup to finish with 10 points and four assists. Jackson was one of six Notre Dame players to score in double figures.
Notre Dame had an assist on 29 of its 35 baskets and the Irish only committed seven turnovers. The Fighting Irish shot 55.6% (35-63) from the floor.
“It’s a good sign when you get 29 assists and seven turnovers and everybody is getting involved,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. “Our offensive efficiency has been our hallmark and sharing the ball was really what did it. I was so pleased when we subbed our young guys. They played the same way and played very maturely. I think it’s a good start for us. I think they’re (UIndy) pretty good. I was a little concerned about this one, given some guys were hurt, but I thought our veterans set the tone and every young guy we put in the game looked like he’d been there before and contributed.”
The Irish effort was a combination of veteran players and new talent. Sherman tallied a game-high 21 points and was a valuable post presence for the Irish, who were without senior forward Tom Knight (back spasms) and sophomore forward Zach Auguste (hand). Sherman also hauled down six rebounds and dished out three assists.
Burgett earned the start and scored 11 points in 25 minutes on the court. Freshman Steve Vasturia sunk two three-pointers, which were his first two shots in an Irish uniform.
Atkins notched 13 points and seven assists, while fellow senior guard Jerian Grant put up 14 points. Connaughton demonstrated his confidence on both ends of the floor, scoring 12 points and hauling down a game-high nine rebounds.
“It’s so easy playing with our team,” Sherman said. “We can basically put any five guys on the court and we all feel comfortable. Everybody can play and they can all handle the ball. There’s been teams in the past I’ve played on where you can’t trust certain people to make decisions, but everybody on this team can make decisions and they’re all good with the ball. So it’s just a fun team to play with.”
Reece Cheatham tallied 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for UIndy. Quinten Hunter (11) and Leland Brown (10) also scored in double figures for the Greyhounds.
The Fighting Irish will play their second and final exhibition game Friday against Tusculum College. Tip-off is slated for 9 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion.
–Lauren Chval, Media Relations Assistant