We knew this would come. Notre Dame was not going to remain undefeated all season. With a tough non-conference schedule that has already given the Irish tilts at DePaul and against LSU and Wichita State in the Maui Invitational, Notre Dame was eventually going to lose. There is no shame in losing to a top 5 team on the road, and Michigan State (MSU) will compete for a National Championship. Let’s dive into the game a little further:
MICHIGAN STATE TOO MUCH
From the first sound of the whistle to the clock reaching double zeroes, MSU was the better basketball team on Thursday night. MSU out-rebounded Notre Dame 24 to 11 in the first half and 42-21 overall. Second chance shots and contested jumpers were the difference. I felt both teams played strong defense, but MSU was able to knock down contested jumpers while Notre Dame struggled to do so. After a dominating first half MSU’s lead stretched as far as 22 points, and the Irish never had an answer for guards Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford.
SECOND HALF LIFE
Notre Dame started the second half on a 12-2 run, and cut a 20 point halftime lead to 7 with 13 minutes remaining. It never got closer than that. On the heels of Rex Pflueger’s career high 15 points (6-7 shooting) Notre Dame made the game competitive, but MSU proved too much in the end.
Mike Brey went with a small bench in the second half, resembling the same lineup as the Wichita State game. Unfortunately, Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell never found their rhythm and accounted for only 27 points (10-27 shooting combined). For as good as this team is, Notre Dame won’t win many games when these two shoot like that.
The Irish are back in Purcell Pavilion for two games to take on St. Francis Brooklyn (2-5) and Ball State (3-4). These next two games should be nice confidence boosters before heading to Delaware to take on former Irish assistant Martin Inglesby and the Fightin’ Blue Hens.