NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Demetrius Jackson looked skyward with his teammates on Friday night as they unfurled a banner to commemorate last season’s ACC Championship.
Minutes later the junior point guard started to show the talent that makes him critical for any Notre Dame tourney repeat. Jackson scored a career-high 27 points to go with eight rebounds during an 87-56 win over St. Francis (Pa.) in the regular season opener.
Jackson shot 10-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-5 from three-point range, while also throwing in three assists for good measure.
“I just like my teammates getting me open and finding me in good spots,” Jackson said. “The coaches putting confidence in me to continue to shoot and be aggressive, they just encouraged me all week to be aggressive and don’t turn down drives. Then the mid-range pull up’s been good to me.”
Head coach Mike Brey gave Jackson freedom to not only hunt his own shot but run an offense that shot 42 percent from the field while playing 12 players total as the lead stretched out during the second half.
Zach Auguste reached double digits with 15 points to go with a team-high 14 rebounds. Steve Vasturia scored 10 while Matt Ryan came off the bench to score nine points.
Auguste got it going early with 11 points and nine rebounds in the first half as Notre Dame (1-0) took a 38-25 lead into halftime.
“That’s something I emphasize a lot,” Auguste said. “Coach, my teammates wanted me to get physical early. I don’t get caught up with the scoring. I think my focus more is I’m gonna concentrate on rebounding offensively. That’s what gets me going. I think that’s what gets the team going.”
Notre Dame racked up 21 offensive rebounds on 39 missed shots with Auguste and Vasturia each collecting four.
“I’ve gotten on our frontline guys to really go to the board,” Brey said. “I thought Zach took that to heart. Bonzie (Colson) never got in a rhythm, but he can do that too. To get to the offensive board, if you’re one of our frontline guys, we have emphasized that. I thought we did that. When Zach does that, God, he’s fabulous.”
Colson started but played just 15 minutes while battling foul trouble. He eventually fouled out with 12:19 left in the second half, finishing with three points and two rebounds.
Matt Farrell subbed for Colson, coming first off the bench with Ryan at the 12:55 mark of the first half. Farrell scored seven points in 17 minutes. Ryan went 3-of-8 from three-point range in 16 minutes.
Freshman Elijah Burns was the only scholarship player not to feature as he spent the game in street clothes. Brey confirmed plans to put Burns on a five-year track.
Burns had micro-fracture ankle surgery in the spring.
“We talked about that,” Brey said. “He’s behind physically because of the surgery in April. He was held up and he wasn’t part of any of our practices this summer and even at times missed some things here. I think we’ve gotta get that thing completely healthy and how we have a program to do that. I think he has a really bright future, but let’s get him healthy. Also, there’s a logjam of big guys if you look out there. We’ve got big guys stacked on each other.”