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Notre Dame Basketball

Laz says Irish feed off Hubb's 'energy, swagger'

December 12, 2020
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Big shots and Prentiss Hubb go hand-in-hand for Notre Dame basketball.

He has been called the Irish's Patrick Mahomes; their quarterback, their undisputed leader, and most importantly, their captain, by head coach Mike Brey.

Don't sleep on Hubb's defense, though.

It might have been what saved Notre Dame in an historic victory for Fighting Irish hoops in a Saturday matinee inside Kentucky's Rupp Arena.

Sure Hubb had 18 points, steady-handed with nine in each half, but he also finished with two steals in 37 minutes.

A junior guard from Maryland, Hubb was credited with a lost-ball turnover forced by Davion Mintz, as the Wildcats had peeled off a 16-0 run to claw back into the game, that Hubb transformed into a run-halting bucket at the other end with less than seven minutes to play.

“He's always going to bring energy, his swagger,” Laszewski said of Hubb. “He had that big-time side-step 3. Driving to the hoop, got us a couple big buckets late. Him and Dane (Goodwin) down at the bottom of the zone, having active hands and getting all those steals, was huge for us.”

Aside from being completely outplayed in its opening at Michigan State, Notre Dame has positioned itself to be 3-1 heading into ACC play as Duke visits midweek.

That the Irish are not rings similar to recent missed opportunities in previous seasons; that the Irish, however, are a bit tougher right now defensively is noteworthy, according to coach Mike Brey.

“I think where my teams through history at times, we've always been pretty good offensively,” Brey said. “But sometimes some of those offensively gifted groups, if they couldn't score and get into their rhythm, we didn't have the fight on the defensive end. It would affect us on that end. I thought this group showed a lot of maturity in just Game 4 to keep fighting back on the defensive end even though we'd miss a shot and it wasn't anywhere near like the first half where it was just flowing.”

Now, the Irish must be able to carry forward this moment.

“I think it's a big confidence-booster for us,” Laszewski said. “Coming off last game where we weren't able to finish it up, it was the next step we had to take.”

SOME BENCH LOVE

Listen, Notre Dame's bench basically is what it is at this point. Tony Sanders Jr. and Matt Zona should get better each week, as the two freshmen better acclimate to the collegiate game. Nik Djogo is dutiful utility man. Brey still believes the Irish might get help next week if the NCAA opts to grant immediately eligibility to Trey Wertz and others like him across college basketball.

Against Kentucky, however, the group did some pivotal things. Djogo hit an open 3 in the first half. Matt Zona had an offensive putback, made a free throw on another play and ate up minutes and space.

“I thought both of them were great,” Brey said. “Matt Zona in the first half was fabulous for us.

“He's playing against big, long, athletic guys. He's a fighter, though. Djogo, he's not healthy, he's not 100% and he played on a bad wheel. But he at least knows how to play with us. He's in there to move the ball, flow, help us move and defensive rebound and guard. I singled him out after the game because I know he was hurting.”

 
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