Irish set to begin Legends Classic with first-ever matchup against Auburn
Jake Miller | Wednesday, November 15, 2023
After a tough loss to Western Carolina, head coach Micah Shrewsberry’s Notre Dame men’s basketball team looks to bounce back against Auburn on Thursday. The Irish will travel to Brooklyn to play the Tigers as part of the Legends Classic, a two-game tournament at the Barclays Center. The tournament includes a consolation bracket. After its first game, the Irish will either face St. Bonaventure or Oklahoma State.
Auburn, currently unranked, stands at 1-1 on the season after losing a tight season opener against No. 15 Baylor 88-82. Auburn returns its star player Johni Broome, a 6′ 10″ forward out of the Tampa Bay area. Last season, Broome averaged 14.2 points per game, although he struggled at the charity stripe, shooting just 56%. Broome led the Tigers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Houston.
The Irish will look to come out in full force, slowing the game down whenever possible. Against Western Carolina on Saturday, Notre Dame played slow, conservative basketball. Freshman guard Markus Burton scored 17 points but failed to relive some of his magic from the season opener. Freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry had a woefully bad day, missing all six of his attempts from beyond the arc and ending the day scoreless. The Irish were able to keep things close for much of Saturday’s game due to a great performance off the bench from freshman forward Carey Booth, who scored 20 points off of 4-of-8 shooting from deep.
For the first time this season, Shrewsberry broke away from man defense. The Irish played a 2-3 zone for a few possessions coming out of a timeout. Shrewsberry’s guards struggled to defend Western Carolina’s Russell Jones Jr., who connected on four three-pointers and scored 20 points. Notre Dame can expect to see more of the same on Thursday. Auburn has attempted 51 three-point shots through its first two games.
Notre Dame’s appearance in the Legends Classic marks its second time participating in the event, which is now in its 17th year. Under Mike Brey, the Irish won the tournament in 2016. Notre Dame was supposed to play in the tournament again in 2020, but the team pulled out due to challenges with COVID-19.
The Irish have never faced Auburn in men’s basketball. Notre Dame’s men’s basketball program began in 1896, while Auburn’s began in 1905. Somehow, in the many years since, the teams have avoided each other. That ends now.
Thursday’s matchup tips off at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. Win or lose, the Irish will play a second game on Friday.