Rushed Reactions: Notre Dame 64, #8 Kentucky 50Posted by WCarey on November 29th, 2012
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed some quick thoughts from tonight’s showdown between Kentucky and Notre Dame…
Three Key Takeaways.
- The Atmosphere At The Purcell Pavilion Was Electric Tonight. And the electricity began way before the game even tipped off. Notre Dame distributed black t-shirts to all fans in an effort for a blackout at the Purcell Pavilion. The blackout effort was successful (even though there was some Kentucky blue scattered throughout the crowd). The Irish basketball team did its part in the blackout by unveiling brand new black jerseys. Big Blue Nation is known for its road presence, but the Notre Dame faithful were successfully able to drown out the voice of the visiting fans. The Irish are now 41-1 in their last 42 non-conference home games and the electrifying atmosphere of the Purcell Pavilion continues to play a key role in that strong mark.
- Notre Dame’s Defensive Effort Was Outstanding. The Irish held Kentucky to just 50 points, which is 18 points lower than its previous season-low. Kentucky shooters were frustrated early and often by the stingy Irish defense, as the Wildcats only managed to finish the game at 40.4% from the field. The Irish defense was particularly tough in the first half, holding Kentucky to just a 37.5% shooting mark. Notre Dame’s terrific defensive pressure also forced Kentucky into a number of abysmal possessions, some of which led to 12 Wildcat turnovers. Wildcat freshmen Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel were stymied all night, as they combined to convert just 5-of-17 field goal attempts. Goodwin, in particular, had a very frustrating night as he was held to just three points, which was 16 points below his season average.
- Notre Dame’s Captains Provide Great Leadership. In a game where Notre Dame had the definite advantage in terms of experience, the Irish veteran captains stepped up and willed the team to victory. Junior guard Eric Atkins led the way for the Irish with 16 points and four assists. Atkins’ defensive effort on Kentucky point guard Archie Goodwin was also notable, as he frustrated the talented freshman all night. Senior forward Jack Cooley put up another double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Cooley’s interior defense left Nerlens Noel frustrated and Alex Poythress in foul trouble. Senior swingman Scott Martin also put forth a steady effort for the Irish with eight points and four rebounds. If the Irish can consistently get great efforts from these three guys, they will be a tough team to beat when Big East play commences.
Star of the Game. Eric Atkins, Notre Dame. Notre Dame’s offensive effort was rather balanced tonight, but it was Atkins, who really set the tone early for the Irish. Scoring 13 of his 16 points in the first half, Atkins helped the Irish take an 11-point lead into the half, which allowed them to control the pace of the game in the second half. While Cooley, junior guard Jerian Grant, and freshman guard Cameron Biedscheid put together impressive performances, it was Atkins who emerged as the best player on the court for the winning team. Quotable.
- “What disappointed me is that we did not compete. We did not execute. We did not play together.” Kentucky head coach John Calipari in response to what he thought went wrong for his squad tonight.
- “We really prepared like an experienced group the past two days and we played like an experienced team tonight.” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey when asked how much of an advantage his team’s experience gave them in tonight’s game.
Sights and Sounds. Many of the players from Notre Dame’s top-ranked and undefeated football team lined the front row of the Irish student section. Most notably was the presence of All-American Heisman candidate Manti Te’o, who led the student charge onto the court as the final seconds ticked away.
What’s Next. Kentucky has a quick turnaround as it will host Baylor on Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame will have a good amount of time to enjoy its victory, as the Irish do not play again until they host Brown on December 8.