Observations: Notre Dame Fighting Irish Men’s Basketball Trails Wire-To-Wire In 69-57 Loss At Louisville
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Observations: Notre Dame Trails Wire-To-Wire In Loss At Louisville

Notre Dame has lost consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 10 and Jan. 13.

The Fighting Irish fell 69-57 at Louisville Tuesday night, dropping their record to 9-12 overall and 6-9 in the ACC. Fifth-year senior forward Juwan Durham had a team-high 18 points. Louisville improved to 12-5 and 7-4.

Here are some observations from the game.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball fifth-year senior forward Juwan Durham
Fifth-year senior forward Juwan Durham had 18 point on 9-of-15 shooting in a loss to Louisville. (ACC)

• This one had shades of a late January 62-51 home loss to Virginia Tech — never a full-on blowout, but Notre Dame never led and didn’t really threaten after it trimmed its deficit to five late in the first half and again in the second half. After Cormac Ryan’s three sliced Louisville’s lead to 56-51 with 6:26 left, the Irish were outscored 13-4 the rest of the way.

Like it did in that lifeless loss to the Hokies, Notre Dame had trouble doing much off the dribble and handling Louisville’s athleticism. The Cardinals switched screens, which Notre Dame struggled against, and defended well in space. Notre Dame had only three assists in the first half, and its first assisted basket didn’t come until almost 13 minutes had passed.

• Notre Dame had a chance to make a move in the first half, but couldn’t muster enough good looks to draw closer. After Louisville took a 25-14 lead with 8:20 left, then proceeded to go 2 of 13 on field goals the rest of the way. But in that span, Notre Dame sliced just two points off its deficit and trailed 33-24 at the break.

• Neither team shot well, but Louisville got the better shots of the two and missed several layups in the first half that kept the score closer. The Cardinals also have potential ACC Player of the Year Carlik Jones, who Notre Dame struggled to contain off the dribble. The Irish eventually started double-teaming him when he came off ball screens and sent help on his drives. For a moment in the second half, they used a box-and-one, with Ryan staying on Jones.

• A quiet day for Notre Dame leading scorer Nate Laszewski, who missed an open three-pointer in the opening minutes, missed a layup later in the first half and didn’t score until 18:27 remained when he made a pair of free throws. He took a hard fall at the end of the first half when he broke up a long inbound pass.

Those free throws were his only two points. He had taken just three shots prior and ended 0 of 8, including 0 of 6 on threes. He was on the bench for about four minutes late in the second half as Louisville pulled away. This was the first game of the year where he took at least four threes without making any of them.

• Notre Dame’s defense was fine, on the whole. It was content to let Louisville, a 30.4 percent three-point shooting team, fire away from deep or take mid-range shots against a zone. After starting 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, Louisville was 4 of 16 the rest of the way. The Irish opened in zone, but played plenty of man-to-man as well. They switched between the two all game, even using some one-three-one zone for a stretch in the second half.

• The time in zone did no favors in a rebounding battle where Notre Dame was already giving up athleticism. Louisville shot only 42 percent from the floor, but grabbed 38 percent of its missed shots. The Cardinals had six offensive rebounds in the first five minutes, nearly all while Notre Dame played zone.

• Notre Dame point guard Prentiss Hubb had one of his more efficient scoring games, with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He didn’t commit a turnover until the 4:35 mark of the second half and ended with just one. The Irish’s lack of ability to get the defense in rotation prevented Hubb from making the extra pass, one of his strengths. Hubb made four threes on eight attempts, all but one of them unassisted.

Hubb still finished with six assists. Two of them came on Louisville breakdowns in ball-screen defense that gave Durham a wide-open look at the basket. He dished to some open shooters in the second half, but almost none of the shots went down — Notre Dame was 4 of 17 on threes in the second half and 7 of 28 overall. Two of the second-half makes were unassisted. The Irish had a couple transition threes in the second half that didn’t go in when they needed points.

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