basketball

Hoops Notebook: Notre Dame Rallies For Road Win

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Associated Press

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Notre Dame improved to 20-7 overall and 9-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference with an 84-76 come-from-behind win over Boston College Tuesday.

Junior forward Bonzie Colson had a team-high 20 points as the Irish overcame a 10-point halftime deficit. Read more about the game HERE.

Here are some other takeaways from the win:

Going Zone

After allowing the Eagles to shoot 58.6-percent (17-of-29) in the first half, the Irish moved to a 2-3 zone defense for much of the second half. The change was effective, as Boston College’s shooting percentage dropped to a miserable 33.3 after halftime.

Boston College finished with 14 turnovers, nine of which came during the second half. The Eagles made just eight field goals in the second period.

"The story was we defended better in the second half," head coach Mike Brey said. Played a little zone, changed it up. We went zone and that changed their rhythm."

The Irish got six straight stops in their zone defense as they rallied back to take the lead in the second half.

Notre Dame out-scored the Eagles 45-27 in the second half as the Eagles failed to solve the zone.

Farrell The 'Assassin'

Junior guard Matt Farrell, among the most improved players in the country, hit back-to-back 3-pointers during Notre Dame’s 15-1 that gave it the lead.

The one-time Boston College verbal commitment let out a couple loud yells after his big shots to rally the Irish.

“The one thing about Matt Farrell, he senses when we need it,” Brey said. “He’s been that kind of assassin for us all year.

"...He just gets fired up. He gets a little crazy. He's crazy. He's got a great edge about him. It's a way he fires himself up. Our teammates react to it. When he's at home, our home crowd loves it. He plays with great juice and he certainly sparked us tonight."

Trailing by 10 at the half, Brey told ESPN afterwards that he did not give an impassioned halftime speech. He left it to his upperclassmen to rally the team.

“In the first half we weren’t playing with any energy or none of that passion that we have to play with, especially in this league there’s no easy games,” Farrell said. “We talked about it at halftime how they were outworking us and playing harder than us. We can’t let that happen.”

His 19 points helped lift Notre Dame over a school he could have been playing for.

“I was thinking about some extra stuff,” Farrell said. “Some guys called me ‘traitor,’ it was awesome. I like doing that, I like playing in these environments.”

Pflueger Starts

Brey once again went with a small lineup, inserting sophomore wing Rex Pflueger into the starting five for the second time in three games.

Pflueger finished with seven points and five rebounds and had a key play late in the game with the Irish up 78-76. Off a missed 3-pointer by senior guard Steve Vasturia, Pflueger tipped an offensive rebound to senior wing V.J. Beachem. Beachem converted both free throws as the Irish maintained the lead.

Freshman point guard T.J. Gibbs, who started against Florida State this past Saturday, came off the bench and scored four points in 14 minutes. Senior forward Austin Torres did not score and had two rebounds in 13 minutes. Sophomore wing Matt Ryan had three points in six minutes and junior forward Martinas Geben — a 23-game starter this year — continued to play a minor role, logging just one scoreless minute.

Moving Forward

Notre Dame travels to Raleigh, N.C., for a noon matchup with North Carolina State on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Wolfpack (14-12, 3-10) host No. 10 North Carolina on Wednesday. Freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr., a likely NBA lottery draft pick, leads NC State with 18.7 points and 6.8 assists per game.

After Saturday, Notre Dame will have a week off before its final three regular-season games. The Irish host Georgia Tech Feb. 26 and Boston College March 1 before finishing the season at No. 8 Louisville March 4.

"Getting through Saturday and being able to rest (our main guys) and get them really fresh comes at a great time for us," Brey said. "Then we've got fresh legs for the stretch."

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Talk about it inside Rockne’s Roundtable

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