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Men’s Basketball: Irish fall to Sycamores

Matthew DeFranks | Sunday, November 17, 2013

The last time Notre Dame lost in November at home, Bob Davie was the football coach.
Three football coaches later, the No. 21 Irish fell to Indiana State 83-70 on Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion. The loss was the first in November at home since 1998 and the first such defeat under coach Mike Brey.
“I guess it has to come to an end,” Brey said. “They’re really a good team. It would have been a good resume win for us.”
The loss also snapped a 30-game non-conference home winning streak for the Irish (2-1).
“Some stuff hit the fan in mid-November,” Brey said. “There’s going to be more stuff hitting the fan. How do we react?”
The Irish turned the ball over 16 times in the game while only notching 13 assists. The sloppy performance was uncharacteristic of Brey’s teams, who have finished in the top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio in each of the last eight seasons.
The Sycamores (2-1) jumped out ahead of the Irish early after Notre Dame was unable to take care of the basketball. Notre Dame turned the ball over nine times in the first half, including seven times in the first 8:34. At the under-12-minute media timeout, Notre Dame had as many points as they did turnovers.
“Those are just so deflating for a team that has, historically, taken really good care of the ball,” Brey said. “The wind came out of the sails.”
The Irish had seven turnovers total in each of their first two games. The Sycamores turned the Notre Dame miscues into 13 points in the opening period.
Indiana State used a 17-2 run over 11:58 in the first half to turn a three-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
“They hit a lot of shots,” senior guard Jerian Grant said. “They’re a really good team. We just got to keep focusing in defensively. When teams go on a run like that, we can’t just stop playing.”
Sophomore guard Khristian Smith spurred the Sycamores during the run, scoring all nine of his first-half points during the spurt. He finished with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
“It creeps into our minds that ‘We can do this. We can do this,'” Smith said. “We know that we can but it takes the first four minutes of energy and effort to show we can.”
In the first half, Indiana State buried eight of 17 3-pointers, five during a 2:37 stretch, and built up a 10-point lead by the break. The Sycamores shot 55 percent (11-for-20) from behind the arc for the game.
“They’re not larks,” Brey said. “These guys can shoot the ball and they were really loose shooting in here.”
Keyed by 10 points off five Indiana State turnovers, the Irish opened the second half with a 15-4 run.
Notre Dame took the lead when sophomore forward Austin Burgett converted on an and-one opportunity with 15:06 left in the second half. It was Notre Dame’s first lead since 5-4 early in the first half.
But the Irish lead lasted just 21 seconds.
“We knew that they were going to respond,” senior guard Eric Atkins said. “It’s a game of runs. We made our run and they made their run to take the lead right back. We didn’t respond after that and that’s what hurt us right there.”
Indiana State responded with a 22-6 run. Six different Indiana State players scored during the spurt. The 15-point Sycamore lead was the largest of the game for the visitors and the Irish never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“We kind of let up a little bit,” Grant said. “We felt like, after we took the lead, this was our game. We had to keep playing, and you saw what happened.”
Junior forward Justin Gant led Indiana State with 17 points as the Sycamores had five players in double-figures.
Grant scored 17 points while junior forward Pat Connaughton had 16 for the Irish.
Atkins led Notre Dame with 18 points and became the 54th player in school history to score 1,000 points in his career.
Last season, Indiana State knocked off two ranked teams (Wichita State and Creighton) and the eventual ACC champion (Miami).
“You could say I should have my head examined to schedule them third game of the year,” Brey said.
The Irish will look to bounce back Friday night when they take on Santa Clara at 9 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.
Contact Matthew DeFranks at [email protected]