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Irish Fall To Spartans In Top-Five Battle

Nov. 30, 2017

Notre Dame at Michigan State Box Score

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The No. 5 Notre Dame basketball team could not overcome a blistering first-half performance by third-ranked Michigan State and dropped a top-five showdown in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Thursday night in East Lansing, Michigan.

It marked the first defeat of the season for the Irish, who now stand at 6-1, while MSU improved to 6-1.

The Spartans used an 8-0 run early in the game to open up a 24-8 lead and never looked back. Mike Brey’s Irish came out hot to start the second half and cut the deficit to seven, but could not manage to get any closer.

Bonzie Colson paced the Irish with 17 points and six rebounds. He was joined in double figures by a career-high 15 points from Rex Pflueger, 11 points from T.J. Gibbs and 10 from Matt Farrell. Farrell added seven assists.

Michigan State was got 17 apiece from Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston. Miles Bridges added 14 points while Nick Ward pitched in 12.

How It Happened

Michigan State built a 46-26 halftime lead after jumping out to a 24-8 advantage. The Spartans out-shot the Irish from the floor, 51-38 percent while holding a 24-11 edge on the glass. The hosts pulled down nine offensive boards in the opening period, good for 13 second-chance points.

In that opening frame, Gibbs paced the Irish with 11 points, while Pflueger connected on all three shots from the floor to score seven points. Colson was held to six points in the frame, while Farrell did not score in the opening 20 minutes, but did contribute four assists.

The Irish quickly slashed the deficit in half after intermission. Notre Dame hit four of its first six shots to open the second half on a 12-2 run, forcing MSU head coach Tom Izzo to call his first timeout of the game just 3:35 into the second period.

Notre Dame kept the pressure on, with a Colson steal leading to a Farrell layup to cut the Spartan lead to eight, 50-42, with just under 15 minutes remaining. Farrell followed with a jumper to cut it to a seven-point game, 53-46, with just over 13 to play.

Seven points would be as close as the Irish got, as Michigan State pushed the lead back to 10, 61-51, with 8:54 remaining and led by double figures for the duration.

Player Of The Game

Rex Pflueger’s career-high 15 points came on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-4 from three-point range. He added three assists and two steals.

Stat Of The Game

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Irish in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Notre Dame had won its last three outings versus Michigan State (2014), at Illinois (2015) and versus Iowa (2016). The Irish now hold an all-time record of 3-2 in the event, with the only defeat before tonight coming during Notre Dame’s first season in the ACC.

Up Next

The Irish return to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center for the first time since Nov. 16 when St. Francis Brooklyn visits on Sunday, Dec. 3. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET and the contest can be seen on ACC Network Extra.