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Men’s Basketball

Irish prepare for Demon Deacons after narrow loss to FSU

| Wednesday, January 29, 2020

After a tough loss in Tallahassee against No. 5 Florida State on Saturday, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team will return home this week for a three game home stand. Their first test will be against conference foe Wake Forest on Wednesday.

The Demon Deacons (9-10, 2-7 ACC) are currently ranked last in the ACC, though Notre Dame (11-8, 2-6 ACC) is sitting just two spots in front of them, third to last. The Irish are coming off a loss at Florida State where they were just two points shy of serving the fifth ranked team in the nation their third loss this season.

To pour salt in the wound, head coach Mike Brey was assessed a program fine of $20,000 for his comments about the officiating immediately following the game during his press conference. Brey apologized for his actions during his weekly teleconference on Tuesday.

Nathanial George | The Observer
Irish graduate student guard Rex Pflueger looks to pass during Notre Dame’s 84-82 loss to Syracuse on Jan. 22 at Purcell Pavilion.

“I certainly accept the reprimand for my comments and I will take my medicine like a man and accept my responsibility on that,” he said. “I am going to try to be a good guy the rest of the season, but I can’t guarantee anything.”

Despite the loss Saturday, the contest against the Seminoles showed a glimmer of hope in the otherwise lackluster Irish season. The Irish showed that they could keep up with some of the best competition in the country on any given night. Brey praised the Seminoles for their performance.

“I was really proud of our group the other night in Tallahassee,” Brey said. “I thought we gave ourselves a chance and really fought back. I am so impressed with Florida State, I really think they can win the whole thing. They are playing well.”

Although the Irish are not playing ideal team basketball, they have had some standout individual performances this season. Senior forward John Mooney reached a mark most recently met by Blake Griffin with Oklahoma in the 2008-09 season by pulling down 200 rebounds in just 15 games. The only player to beat this mark was Tim Duncan in the 1996-97 season, reaching 200 board in just 14 games.

In the Irish backcourt, senior guard T.J. Gibbs is just one point shy from becoming Notre Dame’s all time leading scorer in ACC competition. Gibbs currently has 738 points against ACC opponents, nearing Steve Vasturia’s 739. Gibbs is also ranked fifth in the ACC in field goal percentage shooting 44-84, for .524 this season. He is the third best in the conference with his percentage behind the arc shooting 19-36, for .488 on the year and averaging 2.5 threes made per game. Finally, he leads the conference from the charity stripe, missing just three free throws all year and is currently sitting 24-27,  for a percentage of .889.

Additionally, Notre Dame has been playing very disciplined basketball this year. They lead the country in fewest fouls committed per game at 12.3, and come in at third in the country in fewest turnovers per game at 9.9; just behind Virginia Tech at 9.7 and Liberty at 9.8.

Both the Irish and the Demon Deacons are coming into this game on a two-game losing streak. The Irish lost a close game against Syracuse last Wednesday at home, 82-84, and dropped another on the road against Florida State, 84-85, over the weekend. The Demon Deacons, on the other hand, lost on the road at Clemson last Tuesday in a nail biter, 68-71 and were defeated on their home court Sunday against Virginia in another down-to-the-wire contest, 65-63.

That being said, both squads will be heading into Purcell Pavilion this Wednesday hungry for a victory. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on the ACC Network.

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About Jimmy Ward

Jimmy is a senior at Holy Cross College, where he studies English and sports management. He is originally from Westfield, Indiana. Currently, Jimmy serves as an associate sports editor at The Observer. You can find him at @jimmyyward on Twitter.

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