Busting Brackets

Notre Dame Basketball: 3 takeaways from close victory at Kentucky

SOUTH BEND, IN - MARCH 07: Prentiss Hubb #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dribbles the ball during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Purcell Pavilion on March 7, 2020 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - MARCH 07: Prentiss Hubb #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dribbles the ball during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Purcell Pavilion on March 7, 2020 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame Basketball escapes Rupp Arena with a one-point victory over the Kentucky Wildcats. Here are my 3 Notre Dame takeaways from their victory.

In front of a little over 3,000 fans at Rupp Arena, Notre Dame Basketball escaped with a one-point victory over the Kentucky Wildcats 64-63. At halftime, it looked like the Irish were going to run away with this game as they led 48-26 and at one point were up by as much as 24 points.

It was a tale of two halves for both teams. Notre Dame scored 48 points in the first half going 6-11 from 3-point land, but only had 16 points in the second half and finished 7-21 from three. The Wildcats had 26 in the first and put up 37 in the second to make it a game.

At one point Kentucky went on a 16-0 run in the second half. Olivier Sarr missed the last-second shot with a chance to win on a buzzer-beater, but he still led Kentucky with 22 points and seven rebounds. Notre Dame’s leading scorer in today’s game was junior forward Nate Laszewski as he finished with 21 points and nine rebounds.

Another up and down game for the Irish with this one finishing in victory and here are my three takeaways from the game.

#1: Live By the 3, Die By the 3

It’s a long-standing saying and today proved it’s validity. Although the Irish finished with the win, their performance from beyond the arc in the second half, as opposed to the first, shows what can happen if you lose that hot streak from beyond the 3 point line.

As I mentioned earlier they went 6-11 from deep in the first half and had a huge lead on the Wildcats, and in the second half, they only went 1-10 allowing Kentucky to get defensive rebounds and gain momentum to get back into it. Notre Dame will have to work on alternative ways to score consistently when those droughts from deep become an issue.

#2: Offensive Patience Is Their Key To Victory

In the first half of this game and the game they lost to Ohio State where they also had a big lead, they had amazing patience on the offensive end. The calling card for this year’s Fighting Irish team is getting deep into the shot clock, wearing down the defense, get them out of position, make the right basketball play, and get their players the best, open shot.

That is the main reason they had such a big lead heading into halftime at Kentucky. All teams make adjustments at halftime and that was no different for the Wildcat defense as they came attacking the ball when Notre Dame possessed it and that helped with the Irish turning the ball over more in the second part of the game.

It took Notre Dame who only plays about 7-8 players deep out of their offense and they lost that patient offense allowing Kentucky to go on that 16-0 second-half run. For Notre Dame to limit or eliminate other teams from going on such runs, they have to keep that patience on offense even after halftime adjustments are made.

#3: A Different Team In Each Half

This is now the second game in a row where the Irish were led by double digits at halftime and came out just to let the opponent back in a game they should have run away with.  In their last game, the Buckeyes came back from down 11 to beat the Irish.  In this game, they were up even more and won by one point when Kentucky missed the last-second shot to win the game.

Notre Dame will not last long in the ACC if they don’t figure out a way to play a full game of basketball.  In a conference that is known as a basketball power, playing a full 40 minutes is the only way you will be able to compete.  They were outscored in the second half against Kentucky 37-16.

The Wildcats adjustments had a lot to do with that, but as mentioned above, that 3-point shot stopped falling, the patience on offense went away, and they looked lost on defense.  It is like in a matter of minutes they become a totally different team with the opposite identity they had in the first half.

You can always have takeaways after every game.  The goal is to find them, identify them, and continue the good ones, and fix the bad ones.  If Notre Dame is going to make this season a good one and compete in such a tough conference they have now played back-to-back games where a few of these takeaways still need to be addressed moving forward.

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Their next game is back at home against the #10 Duke Blue Devils which is scheduled for a 9:00 pm start this Wednesday, December 16th.