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Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Blasts Virginia 76-54 on '574 Day'

December 30, 2023

Notre Dame (6-7) has been on a roller coaster in most games this season as in-game runs have defined the season. 

Saturday was different on ‘574 Day’ at Purcell Pavilion. 

The Irish started the game on a 13-0 run led by nine points from JR Konieczny and never let the lead fall under double digits in the 76-54 win over Virginia (10-3). 

“Our guys were locked in from December 26th when we came back from break,” Notre Dame head coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “What that game looked was what practiced looked like for about three days in a row.”

Konieczny, who scored all 17 of his points in the first half, hit three threes in the first 2:20 of the game and it provided Notre Dame momentum it had been missing for much of the year. 

“I thought the way JR started the game really gave us a huge boost,” stated Shrewsberry. “I thought the way Markus (Burton) played the entire time was very, very encouraging.” 

In past games, Notre Dame would lack focus or discipline after gaining a lead, but not on this day. Burton shined against the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Reece Beekman, by dropping 15 points and eight assists. 

The Irish as a team got timely buckets in the first half to keep increased the lead. It went from 13 to 19 to 20. Virginia never quite got on run to end the first half with momentum, which is something Shrewsberry has been focused on in practice. 

“I’m like the Grim Reaper at film because it’s things we have to correct, but they’re probably like, I hope Coach Shrews doesn't show film today,” laughed Shrewsberry. “It’s always so negative. We watched film the other day and it was called Rally Killers. It wasn’t trying to pick on people, but it was a 5-0 run and look at us stopping ourselves. It was from the Marist game. It’s not Marist. It was us taking an ill-timed shot, turning the ball over. 

“I thought we didn’t have those. I have to go back and watch, so we might, but not as many. We did the right thing at the right moment.” 

Virginia did open the second half on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 41-31, but Julian Roper II answered with a three and Kebba Njie added a dunk to push the lead back to 15. 

“It would have been easy to panic,” Shrewsberry said. “They came right out of halftime with a quick run. We sat down, we took a breath and we came back out and answered it. That’s part of growth as a group. It could have really flip sideways.” 

The Irish were up 50-38 at the 11:40 mark and Carey Booth took over. The freshman forward scored eight quick points over the next two minutes and then Burton added a layup to push the lead to 20 points. 

Booth scored 14 second half points on his way to 17 points and nine rebounds for the game. 

Shrewsberry was more than pleased with guys stepping up as he believed it was a sign of growth and those tough games earlier this month weren’t for nothing. 

“It’s small steps,” explained Shrewsberry. “Sometimes you can’t see it, especially when you’re in the moment every single day. You do see improvements. Things that Carey Booth couldn’t quite figure out in November, now he’s getting there and causing turnovers because he’s in the right spot at the end of the game against Virginia. There’s a process to all of it. Sometimes it takes failure to reach that process.” 

Part of that process was building more focus and becoming a mentally and physically tougher basketball team. 

“I think our preparation was definitely the biggest thing going into this game,” said Konieczny. “We’ve had our foot off the gas going into some games, but we just worked our butts off in practice. We came ready to go today. It starts with everybody. Our managers, the coaches, all of us, everyone has to bring it every single day. 

“The energy we had was amazing the past two days. I’m proud of our guys tonight.” 

Notre Dame shot 51 percent from the field, 48 percent from three, out-rebounded Virginia 40-27 and most importantly, led the game for 39:35. 

The offensive dominance against one of the nation’s best defenses might have been a surprise to most, but there have been subtle signs in practice that Shrewsberry’s guys are finally listening to him. 

“I think we’ve come together,” stated Shrewsberry. “We’ve gotten closer since that moment. We’ve trusted each other. Part of our values we talk about, which I said we got away from and that’s completely my fault. One of them is accountability. I’ve seen our guys holding each other accountable more in practice and in games.” 

Notre Dame will continue its six-game homestand on Wednesday night as NC State comes to South Bend for a 9:00 PM ET tip on ACC Network. 

“This one’s over now,” said Shrewsberry. “When we leave here, this one’s over. We can’t bring this to practice. You have to play the right way vs. NC State.” 

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