Irish Impressions: Notre Dame 92, Navy 53
1. Notre Dame used a 56-point performance in the second half and forced 20 Navy turnovers to spur decisive win. 56 points in 20 minutes is made even more impressive considering Irish offensive possessions were a premium today against a Navy offense that relishes draining the shot clock. The Irish were ahead by just eight at the break, but Notre Dame shot 62.5 percent from the field and 40 percent (6-of-15) from behind the arc in the second half to pull away. Zach Auguste led all scorers with 20 (13 of those came in the 2nd half), while Jerian Grant added 17, Pat Connaughton contributed 13 and V.J. Beachem added 10 off the bench. Ball movement was well-executed, demonstrated by a team total 19 assists and just nine turnovers. Pressure from Notre Dame's guards will be a theme for this year's team, and it was on display today. Notre Dame forced 20 Navy turnovers, and 11 of those were steals. Notre Dame was able to score 25 points as a result of Navy's miscues. No. 18 ranked Michigan State forced just 10 Midshipmen turnovers on Friday night. Of note as well, Notre Dame out-rebounded Navy 35-25. 2. The Irish received key contributions from their bench. - F V.J. Beachem - 10 points, two assists, two steals, one block in 20 minutes of play - F Martin Geben - 6 points, four rebounds, one block in 13 minutes of play - F Austin Burgett - 5 points, one bock, one steal in 14 minutes of play Beachem has such a fluid stroke, and he showed he's capable of scoring from anywhere on the court. His floater off the glass in the lane in the second half stands out. Brey emphasized the play of Burgett post-game, pointing to his skills as a defender and calling him the "perfect guy" as the big man when Notre Dame downshifts in size. Geben provides a nice lift off of the bench, especially when he utilizes his length inside the post on defense. Today, he showed he's dangerous on offense as well when he's able to face up and take on defender one-on-one inside. 3. Jerian Grant finished the day with a double-double (17 points, 10 assists). His ability to find his teammates down low will be key when Notre Dame enters conference play. Today, he had three no-look passes into the paint that resulted in easy buckets, including a behind the shoulder pass to Geben for the lay-up. Grant and Connaughton work off each other extremely well, and there's plenty of chemistry evident between the two. This season though, Grant will need to take over, especially against tougher competition. He's a level above everyone else on this team right now, and he'll have to embrace that fact come conference play. Grant was 4-of-9 from the field, 2-of-6 from behind the arc, and 7-of-8 at the charity stripe. He also added five rebounds and one steal with only two turnovers in 31 minutes of play. 4. Zach Auguste is a valuable presence down low, but improvement is necessary to compete with the best of the big men in the ACC. Notre Dame's 19-2 run late in the second half was spurred by Auguste, who had seven of the first 10 points during that stretch. Moreover, his career-high 20 points came in just 19 minutes of play. He also had zero turnovers. Auguste needs to gain confidence in playing with his back against the basket, especially as he works on finding his touch down low. It took him a couple of misses early to find his offensive rhythm. He'll also have to improve defending the post, and four rebounds as Notre Dame's big man won't suffice in January...
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