The college sports world these days is suspended on a Notre Dame cloud.
While the school’s top-ranked football team gears up for the BCS National Championship game in five weeks, the hoops squad took its swings at the reigning national champs on the hardwood. And with most of the gridiron gang looking on from the student section, Mike Brey’s team made sure it delivered a championship-caliber knockout punch.
In front of a black-clad crowd at Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame blacked out Kentucky, 64-50, to tip off the SEC/Big East Challenge, dealing the Wildcats their second loss of the early season. In so doing, the Fighting Irish reminded college hoops fans alike not to forget about their under-the-radar basketball team in the haze of football madness.
Twitter-compatible recap: UK struggles w/ ND zone, even more from 3-point range. Irish lights out from perimeter. Atkins shines, Biedscheid blossoms. UK frosh quiet.
Young vs. Old. Three of Kentucky’s five starters had never before played a true road game. Notre Dame’s starting lineup, by contrast, featured 18 years of combined collegiate experience. The upshot: a lopsided matchup of youth vs. experience. As what usually happens under these circumstances unless the talent gap is too large (e.g. 2011-12 Kentucky), experience prevailed.
Alex Poythress foul trouble changes game. The Wildcats started four of five from the floor, not coincidentally while their star freshman forward was on the floor. Then Poythress hit the bench with two fouls, and the game changed on a dime in his absence. UK made only 4 of its final 18 shot attempts to close out the half as Notre Dame turned a six-point deficit when Poythress hit the bench into an 11-point halftime lead.