Feb. 13, 2016
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame’s backcourt of Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia was too much for No. 13 Louisville.
Jackson kept the Fighting Irish in the game in the first half, Vasturia led the rally back from an 11-point deficit in the second and other Notre Dame players finally hit some key shots down the stretch in a 77-66 victory Saturday.
”My two guys today were fabulous,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. ”Demetrius was off the charts. I don’t know why he isn’t mentioned for player of the year in our league more. … Steve Vasturia is just fabulous in the clutch.”
Jackson matched his career high with 27 points, scoring 20 in the first half, and Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 in the second as he repeatedly drove inside. Jackson said he and Vasturia were just trying to be aggressive.
”Just attacking, going downhill, trying to create for ourselves and for others. With their defense, we had a lot of opportunities to attack, so we just wanted to take advantage of that and not be passive and just stay within ourselves and play our game,” he said.
Vasturia said he was just following Jackson’s lead.
”I saw Demetrius was able to get into the lane a lot, and he was scoring and getting looks for everybody else, too. I figured I could create a little bit as well,” he said.
Rick Pitino said the Cardinals stopped playing good defense when they started missing some shots.
”This team has one major flaw that they have to get over. If they miss a shot, they put their head down and they don’t think about defense. That’s probably the No. 1 hurdle we have to get over this year,” he said.
The Cardinals (19-6, 8-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 49 percent in the first half and 28 percent in the second.
Jackson said the Irish won because they played better defense in the second half.
”We just forced tougher shots. We forced them to miss some shots. They were great players over there. They’ve got some capable shot-makers, so just forcing them into difficult shots and then going to get a big defensive rebound, which (Zach Auguste) did a lot of today.”
The Irish (18-7, 9-4) used three 7-0 spurts in the second half to get the win, the final one coming after Ray Spalding’s layup with 6:36 remaining gave Louisville a 63-62 lead. The Irish regained the lead with a 3-pointer by V.J. Beachem, a layup by Auguste and two free throws by Jackson.
Damion Lee, who led the Cardinals with 13 points, hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to cut the lead to 69-66. But Lee missed another 3-point try with 5 seconds left and Auguste clinched the win with two free throws a second later.
Auguste added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Irish and Bonzie Colson had 10 rebounds as the Irish out-rebounded Louisville 41-29 and had a 30-20 advantage in scoring in the paint.
Quentin Snider added 12 points for Louisville and Trey Lewis had 11.
David Rivers, a standout for the Irish from 1984-88, was at the game and spent time before the game chatting with his former coach, Digger Phelps, a courtside regular. Pat Connaughton, who helped lead the Irish to a 32-6 finish last season, joined Phelps and Rivers briefly. With the NBA on break for the All-Star Game, Connaughton, now a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, and former teammate Jerian Grant, now with the New York Knicks, were back to see their first game this season.
Louisville: Louisville lost consecutive games for the first time this season. … Chinanu Onuaku had four blocked shots. … Louisville lost consecutive games to Notre Dame for the first time since losing in 1973 and 1987.
Notre Dame: A moment of silence was held before the game for 1953 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner and Notre Dame graduate Ingrid Williams, wife of former Irish standout Monty Williams, now an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 44-year-old mother of five was killed in a car accident in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. … The Irish improved to 3-3 against ranked opponents this season. … Notre Dame has sold out four consecutive games, the only sellouts of the season.
Louisville hosts Syracuse on Wednesday.
Notre Dame is at Georgia Tech on Feb. 20.