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Notre Dame Basketball

Mooney: Hubb shows among nation's best

January 4, 2020

Both teams made 31 field goals.

Both teams made 15 3-pointers.

Notre Dame made one more free throw.

Specifically, potential goat-turned-hero Prentiss Hubb made the decisive charity toss Saturday in Notre Dame’s captivating, 88-87 win at Syracuse.

Whistled for a technical foul with just more than five minutes left on the clock following his brilliant dish to John Mooney for a dunk, Hubb stepped calmly to the stripe with 18 seconds in the game and swished back-to-back high-pressure free throws.

“I think I had to erase it quick because just thinking about, ‘Oh, man. I got a technical foul, we lost, my fault,’ I think that would have messed up my whole game for that last five minutes,” said Hubb, “and I just had to move on to the next play. My bad and get it back to my teammates.”

Coach Mike Brey said he absolutely would live with Hubb’s rare lapse in judgment because of the edge with which Hubb attacks the game.

“Well, he did deserve the ‘T,’” said Brey, who exploded onto the court’s edge to yell at officials after the initial call. “The one thing I do love about him is he’s a fighter and he’s fearless and he showed that. The technical was a little bit of his fearlessness and going overboard, but I don’t ever wanna curb it because he made big shots and wanted to make big shots.

“First time playing in this building, but he gives us kind of a fearlessness as he’s getting older now and more mature.”

Hubb steadfastly credited his teammates in postgame comments.

“It was a little hard at first, but not even like, I got over it like a possession or so later, not even anything major because it was like timeout after,” said Hubb, who finished with 22 points and hit 6 of 12 from long-range. “My teammates and coaches were just telling me, ‘Move on to the next play, move on to the next play.’ Without them in my ear, I don’t think it would’ve [been good].”

Instead, said veteran stalwart John Mooney, Hubb stamped his arrival to the nation.

“Nice to see Prentiss kind of establish himself as one of the better guards in the country, or in the conference at least, definitely in the country,” Mooney said. “That’s fun when the game is that fast and kind of trading buckets like that.”


John Mooney did what John Mooney seemingly always does: notch a double-double performance.

This one was rather Herculean. Or perhaps Mooney-ian. The Irish post led all scorers with 28 points on 11-for-21 shooting and all players with 14 rebounds.

None of them was more important than his late grab-and-putback for the Notre Dame lead inside the final 40 seconds.

“Dane Goodwin cut up high-post, and we’ve kind of talked about how if Dane gets there, we’re going to live with shooting that foul-line jumper all night; great shooter,” Mooney said of the sequence. “And I just crashed the glass, it came off, kind of came right to me and I got blocked on the first attempt. I just got it right back and put it up.

“Big play, I guess. When you’re moving the ball like that, it’s hard to box out.”

Mooney recorded his 12th double-double in 14 games this season and 38th of his distinguished Irish career.

“He’s been doing that all year,” Brey said. “He’s the best rebounder in the country. He was good at the foul line; we did a good job getting the ball to him from the foul line down to the baseline.

“But, we’re the best-passing team in the country. We had 26 assists. How many assists did Syracuse have? (20). That’s how the game should be played. That is a beautiful game.”

Added Hubb, “He played a great game. I don’t think without him we would have won the game. He was just down there battling, rebounding, finishing at the rim and all of that. He just did a really great job being the glue for our team.”


Senior guard Rex Pflueger, selfless as ever, injured his surgically repaired knee late in the first half when he blocked the path of a Syracuse defender in order to free Prentiss Hubb for a run-out layup.

Pflueger immediately left the court for examination in the locker room, attempted to return in the second half and then could not play.

It was almost exactly a year ago that Pflueger suffered a torn ACL that robbed him of the 2018-19 season, though Pflueger garnered a medical-redshirt from the NCAA and returned this season.

Notre Dame already lost sophomore guard Robby Carmody in early-season non-conference play, and the Irish had just six players log minutes in the second-half comeback against Syracuse.

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