The Louisville Cardinals continued their road trip when they traveled up to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The last time these two teams met in South Bend, the game went into five overtimes with ND taking the victory. But then, Louisville won 16 straight games to win the national title.
The Cardinals needed to pull out a victory here to stay in contention for the regular season ACC crown. But Demetrius Jackson and company weren’t allowing that to happen. Notre Dame rolled to a victory against the Cardinals to take the one thing that Louisville still had to fight for from them.
Damion Lee's Struggles Continue
Lee played one of his worst games against Duke earlier in the week when he only had 10 points. It’s worth noting that he didn’t make a single three-point basket in that game either. He wasn’t that much better today as he only had 13 points on 4/13 shooting. Lee hit a clutch basket toward the end of the game to pull the team within three points, but missed the next one to close the game. But, give credit to ND, for they had a game plan to shut him down, and they did so throughout the game.
“This team has one major flaw that they have to get over. If they miss a shot, they put their head down and they don’t think about defense. That’s probably the No. 1 hurdle we have to get over this year,” UofL head coach Rick Pitino said.
Notre Dame Claws Back
Louisville led for about 25 minutes in the game, and at halftime they looked pretty much in full control when leading 43-36. But after a couple shots didn’t fall for the Cardinals, they stopped playing quality defense. The Cardinals once had an 11-point lead, but that came to a brutal ending. Notre Dame straight abused the Cards on the boards, out-rebounding them 41-29. Two players on ND (Auguste & Bolson) had 7 rebounds less than the entire UofL team combined.
“Just attacking, going downhill, trying to create for ourselves and for others. With their defense, we had a lot of opportunities to attack, so we just wanted to take advantage of that and not be passive and just stay within ourselves and play our game,” ND head coach Mike Brey said.
Demetrius Jackson And Steve Vasturia Shine
The backcourt duo dominated Louisville for 40 minutes. Jackson had 20 first half points and Vasturia had 15 second half points. They were scoring inside and out while trying to maintain aggressiveness. The two combined for 47 points on 15/28 shooting. They are both able to light it up from the outside and take it into the lane. Jackson scored a career high 27 points to solidify his claim as the best point guard in the ACC.
“My two guys today were fabulous. Demetrius was off the charts. I don’t know why he isn’t mentioned for player of the year in our league more. … Steve Vasturia is just fabulous in the clutch,” Brey said.
Notre Dame was able to fight for a victory today to get back into the race for a top four seed in the ACC. The Fighting Irish will get a week off before going to Georgia Tech to take on the Yellow Jackets. Louisville had the only thing they were fighting for taken away from them this afternoon. The Cardinals are now looking to bounce back Wednesday when they take on Syracuse in an old Big East showdown.