Final Tune-up All Irish

Notre Dame begins its ACC conference season with a one-off home outing against Florida State Saturday before returning to non-conference play to conclude the 2014 calendar year.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A decisive 29-4 run turned a 22-18 Notre Dame lead midway through the first half into a comfortable 52-27 margin at the break en route to an 93-67 Irish victory over Mount St. Mary's Tuesday night at the Purcell Pavilion.

The remarkable rally was led by a pair of sophomores, Steve Vasturia and Demetrius Jackson, as the tandem scored or assisted on eight consecutive baskets and 10 of 11 during a 27-4 scoring stretch. The Irish raced out to a 51-22 lead as a result.

Vasturia finished 7 for 7 from the field hitting each of his three attempts from downtown and both of his free throws. His "perfect" 19 points tied for the game high with junior Zach Auguste (7-12 from the field) and 5th-year senior start Jerian Grant (8-13)

Combined, Notre Dame's starting five hit 30 of 46 field goal attempts (65 percent) as the Irish shot 59 percent for the contest. Notre Dame entered the game leading the nation in field goal percentage at 55.8 percent.

"That's a potent offensive group that starts, and (Vasturia) being aggressive just adds to it," said Irish head coach Mike Brey. "This is the next step in the whole aggressiveness thing. He should hunt stuff just like Jerian and Demetrius. That's the theme we started with him before (Michigan State). That's the one thing I'm really pleased with, that he was really aggressive. We need him to be, he's potent."

Also potent during the debilitating Irish run was Jackson, producing a pair of highlight reel-worthy, one-on-one dribbling exhibitions that resulted in back-to-back scores: a pull-up three-pointer followed by a driving layup as the Irish pulled away as the first half closed.

Jackson's playground moves elicited a knowing smile from Brey post-game.

"Yeah. I hope he got 'em out of his system because he's not going to be able to do that against the ACC (competition)," Brey offered. "But I'll say this, he's really confident. And I love the fact that he's really confident. I'd much rather have him doing that."

"You're seeing a young man that's really confident. Still spearheading our defense. And I love how he's getting to the basket and making plays."

Jackson's 15 points rounded out a quartet of double figures scorers for Brey as the Irish head coach went to his bunch early and often -- 10 deep in the first half with all 12 healthy players earning at least five minutes.

No Notre Dame player participated for more than 29 minutes (Vasturia).

"It's important that Martin Geben has earned that (time)," said Brey. "(Austin) Torres earned that after Michigan State, you want to keep him getting through there. I thought (Austin) Burgett was active, we're going to need him. Even getting Bonzie (Colson) some more minutes because he's on my mind too. It's a long season. You can keep them engaged. That'll lead to good practices on Thursday and Friday."

Burgett finished with six rebounds off the bench in 10 minutes while Colson collected five with five points in 16 minutes. Torres played the most from the bench brigade, notching 18 minutes, a large part of it spent in zone defense in preparation for future games.

"We played a lot of zone tonight just to get reps in it because I think we're going to have to use that at times, and probably going to have to use it some on Saturday," Brey admitted. "We'll have to use it. When it's bigger (taller players) it's pretty good. We do need a change of pace as we get into league play. It's something we're going to have to go to. Your concern about it is rebounding out of it. When you're in zone, you don't have definitive matchups when the shot goes up. (Opponents) have more athletes that can run and jump at the rim. That's a worry for me."

Those athletes are present in Saturday night's foe, Florida State. The Seminoles are just 4-4 on the season including a Nov. 23 loss to Massachusetts, 75-69, at the Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT), a team the Irish defeated one day prior by 13. The Seminoles lost to tournament champion Providence, 80-54 one day before Notre Dame took the Friars to the wire, losing 75-74.

"My feeling is it's going to be a dogfight, because they're healthy, and they know how to win league games," Brey said.

Tip-off is set for 8:00 pm on ESPN2.


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