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Notre Dame Basketball

Starting to click: New lineup, hot shooting pace Notre Dame win

January 24, 2021
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A new starting lineup.

Ridiculous scoring “off the bench.”

The return of the Prentiss Hubb so often seen in recent seasons.

Brilliant long-distance shooting.

In fact, Notre Dame has its first winning streak of the 2020-21 season.

All of that, and more, equalled a stellar road performance Sunday night for Notre Dame, which got 19 points from Hubb and board-walked past host Miami, 73-59.

“We needed it bad, and you know, you had to wait so long to play,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I give these guys credit, their concentration when it's eight practices between games instead of two or three.”

The suddenly efficient outing from the Fighting Irish (5-8, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) catapulted Notre Dame to its second-straight league win after defeating Boston College last Saturday inside Purcell Pavilion. The Irish opted to open with Cormac Ryan, Tony Sanders Jr., Matt Zona, Nik Djogo and Elijah Morgan as their starting participants.

Off the bench, Nate Laszewski and Juwan Durham combined for 32 points and 15 rebounds as Notre Dame won consecutive contests for the first time since last season.

“It was a strong message,” Durham said of the benching bestowed upon Notre Dame's regular starters. “I felt like we had to prove ourselves to (Brey) and the rest of the coaching staff.”

After it had trailed 6-0 to open the game, Notre Dame got its scoring initiated with a Nik Djogo 3, and the Irish finally drew even at 9-all. It then outscored the hosts 21-13 the remainder of the opening half for a 30-22 edge at the break.

Notre Dame led for almost 28 minutes of game clock, outrebounded the host Hurricanes by nine (37-28) and dished out 19 assists on 28 buckets.

“I think it's just a big step for us,” Hubb said. “Nothing really major, we still have a lot of basketball to play. I feel like we did take a step in the right direction.”

The biggest step for the Irish might have been the collective response when Miami whittled a 19-point second-half deficit into single digits on its home court.

Rather than fold, the Irish summoned their resolve to answer each Hurricanes salvo. They closed the game on a 10-3 scoring spree after Miami pulled within 63-56.

“You know you've got great kids,” Brey said. “And simply, we've been into this compete drill and who competes the hardest. The blue shirts competed harder than the white shirts (Saturday). Halfway through practice, I said, they're starting and you guys are coming off the bench. They rooted like heck for the guys who were starting.”

Notre Dame hit on 28 of 52 field-goal attempts, including 10-for-18 from 3-point range.

Kameron McGusty paced the Hurricanes with 20 points while Isaiah Wong added 16 – but on 17 shots from the floor.

Up next for the Irish is a chance for both revenge and a rare three-game winning streak; they host No. 16 Virginia Tech Wednesday inside Purcell Pavillion (7 p.m.).

 

 
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