Rushed Reactions: #6 Notre Dame 61, #7 Wisconsin 56

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 25th, 2016

Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCEastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCSouthregion and @RTCWestregion

Three Key Takeaways.

Demetrius Jackson Willed His Team to a Win Tonight (USA Today Images)

Demetrius Jackson Willed His Team to a Win Tonight (USA Today Images)

  1. Notre Dame did what it does best: make clutch plays down the stretch. The Irish have trailed in the closing minutes in each of its three NCAA Tournament games so far and yet they have made all the necessary plays to come up with wins each time. Most impressively, Mike Brey’s team won tonight despite trailing for 37-plus minutes. Even against the most resilient of defenses, Notre Dame has proven difficult to contain for the full 40 minutes. Now the Irish’s challenge will be in matching the offensive output of an equally elite shooting team in either North Carolina or Indiana.
  2. Nigel Hayes continued to struggle through a prolonged shooting slump. The junior forward led the Badgers in scoring for a majority of the season, feasting on mismatch opportunities given his impressive outside-in skill set. Not only was Hayes remarkably efficient when scoring inside and getting to the free throw line, but he also demonstrated an ability to consistently hit shots from the mid-range. Yet his shooting has been woeful in this NCAA Tournament. Despite going up against a mediocre defensive team in Notre Dame, Hayes shot 4-of-12 this evening. Thankfully, several others stepped up to contribute in his absence, but Wisconsin’s offense simply didn’t have enough in the tank to prevent the late comeback.
  3. Wisconsin imposed its will on the defensive end, yet still came up short. As with most Badgers games, they win by turning games into slogging defensive battles. Its offensive sets are slow and methodical, working to wear down its opponent over the course of the game. On the other hand, Notre Dame distinguishes itself with a highly efficient offense. The Fighting Irish spread the floor with multiple shooters and are remarkably good at running the pick-and-roll with Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste. At the end of the game, the red-hot shooting that propelled Mike Brey’s team through its first two NCAA Tournament games was contained for 20 minutes. In the first half, Notre Dame shot 7-of-29 from the floor and committed seven turnovers before ultimately regaining its composure and finishing the game on an 8-0 run supplemented by 15-of-26 second half shooting.

Star of the Game. Demetrius Jackson didn’t shoot the ball well tonight but he made the winning plays down the stretch. With Notre Dame down three, Jackson got to the hoop for an uncontested layup to cut the lead to one point. On the following play, he stole the ball on a trap near the baseline and scored again to give Notre Dame the lead for good. Then, with Wisconsin down three and playing for a chance to tie it, Jackson ripped the ball away from a racing Bronson Koenig and made the subsequent free throws to seal the game. Jackson’s 6-of-18 shooting performance wasn’t pretty, but he came through when it mattered most. As a result, the Irish are headed to the Elite Eight.

Sights & Sounds. There was a loud and vocal turnout from the Wisconsin fan base, which always travels well to support its team. The cheering opportunities, however, were limited by few and far between scoring runs in what proved to be a defensive battle. Wisconsin fans may have been used to it, but Notre Dame fans certainly were not. The scattered and scarce green shirts throughout the building were relatively quiet until the closing minutes when Notre Dame mounted a comeback.

Quotable.

  • Greg Gard, on the Hayes turnover that ultimately gave Notre Dame the lead: “We wanted to get the ball to Nigel… we’ve got to do a better job trying to split that trap or get rid of the ball before the trap comes.”
  • Gard, on Wisconsin’s 17 turnovers: “This is going to stick for a long time. I don’t know if there’s a program that prides itself on taking care of the ball more than Wisconsin.”
  • Demetrius Jackson, on overcoming his initial shooting woes: “My teammates did a great job encouraging me to keep attacking.”
  • Jackson, on the last steal: “I’m really glad Bonzie didn’t listen to me on that play. I was telling him to get back.”

What’s Next? Wisconsin will pack up and head home after already exceeding its fans expectations with a Sweet Sixteen appearance. For Notre Dame, the magical run continues. The Fighting Irish are now just one game away from a trip to the Final Four, something it has not accomplished as a program since 1978.

Justin Kundrat (166 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com


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