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Men’s Basketball

Notre Dame offense unable to overcome Miami defense, loses 62-47 on the road

| Thursday, February 7, 2019

In a matchup featuring two storied programs both experiencing down years, Notre Dame (12-11, 2-8 ACC) fell to Miami (FL) (10-12, 2-8 ACC) by a score of 62-47. Coming off of a 79-73 victory over Boston College, the Irish traveled to the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla., in hopes of handing the Hurricanes their sixth-straight loss Wednesday.

Things didn’t go as planned, to say the least.

After jumping out to an early 13-4 lead, with sophomore guard D.J. Harvey and junior forward John Mooney each adding a jumper and a 3-pointer in addition to freshman Prentiss Hubb’s long range jumper in the opening possession of the game, the Irish finished the half trailing 28-23, and it was all downhill from there. After tying things up at 13, the teams exchanged buckets throughout the remaining of the first half. But Miami distanced themselves from the Irish, scoring the last five points of the half.

Annie Smierciak | The Observer

Irish sophomore DJ Harvey pushes the ball down the court during Notre Dame’s 55-82 loss to Virginia on Jan. 26.

“I thought we were going to have a really good offensive night like we did in Boston on Saturday … we couldn’t get back into a rhythm,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “But again I would give Miami’s defense and ball pressure credit because we had some turnovers there, and they rushed us because they were athletically up on us. Maybe they weren’t guarding us as hard early, and then they woke up.”

Once the Miami defense wake up though, Brey’s team was never able to recover. Returning to the half, the Hurricanes scored the first six points of the second half to go up 34-23, and never looked back.

Heading into the game, Miami’s defense was ranked 130th overall by KenPom, yet Notre Dame still managed to score its lowest point total of the season: a meager 47 points.

Notre Dame finished the game shooting 32.1 percent overall (18-of-56) and 14.3 percent from 3-point range (4-of-28). The Irish turned the ball over 14 times, and were out-rebounded 39-30.

Miami now leads the all-time series 12-11.

Harvey was the leading scorer for the Irish, finishing with 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field. Unfortunately, John Mooney’s streak of consecutive double-doubles stalled at eight. The junior forward from Orlando, Fla., finished the game with 14 points and six rebounds. On the bright side for Brey and his coaching staff, it was the 26th time in Mooney’s career that he finished in double figures, and the 18th time this season. In his second game back from injury, junior forward Juwan Durham produced good minutes for Notre Dame off the bench, totaling eight points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field to go along with four rebounds. In his second-straight start, junior guard Nikola Djogo also grabbed a season-high seven rebounds on the night to follow his career-high 21 points over the Boston College.

After the game, Brey attributed the Irish’s low scoring to the Hurricanes stellar defense as opposed to blaming it on the team’s poor shooting performance.

“I thought Miami’s defense really bothered us, you know we turned it over 14 times, and we just couldn’t score on them … you score 47 points you’re not going to win a league game,” Brey said. “I would give Miami’s defense credit, not us missing shots.”

Brey also went on to add that the Hurricanes are better than their record suggests.

“I think they’re a good team,” Brey said. “they’ve played an unbelievably tough league schedule, I think their personnel is pretty good even though they only have seven of them.”

Wednesday night’s contest featured a matchup between two former high school teammates in the likes of Hubb and Chris Lykes for Miami. The two former teammates helped Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C. to the 2017 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title. Lykes, a 5-foot-7 sophomore point guard who came into the game averaging 16.7 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.5 steals per game finished the game with 11 points and two steals to go along with his four assists.

Although Lykes may not have had the flashiest of stat-lines, Brey had high praise for the youngster after the game, and attributed much of Miami’s defensive success to Lykes’ ball pressure.

“Lykes just changes the game with his ball pressure … Prentiss had six turnovers, he just is really disruptive, he pressures the ball and then he’s quick enough where he can leave his man and rat around and make plays, he kind of disrupted our whole flow after the first four minutes,” Brey said.

Ultimately, the Hurricanes attacked the Irish with a balanced offensive effort, with four different players earning double-digit points.

After a disappointing ACC regular season that saw the Irish seven-straight conference matchups through January last season, Brey was committed to developing this young program. However, Wednesday’s loss to the Hurricanes reminded fans those January blues aren’t so far behind them, as the Irish currently sit tied for last place in the conference. Yet again, the game seemed like a showing of men vs boys, the Irish unfortunately being the boys.

Brey described the contest as more of the same of what we’ve been seeing all year.

“They’ve got men, they’re old, and I thought some of the matchups with our young guys, they kind of manhandled us at times, and that has really been the story of us in the league,” Brey said. “We’ve been picked on a bit and treated a bit like the JV.”

The question now becomes, when will we be the men playing against the boys?

Moving forward, the Irish will hope to bounce back against Georgia Tech this upcoming Sunday at 6 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion.

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