Matt Cashore / IrishIllustrated.com

O’Malley’s Key Three

Beachem, Farrell, Colson, and the Irish defense lead way to rout of Syracuse

SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE

While Matt Farrell’s 15-point, 9-assist outing Saturday looks good on paper, the junior’s true impact is best illustrated by the end result of his nine dimes – all either layups/dunks or shots that twinkled the twine from beyond the arc:

  • A layup for Bonzie Colson
  • Two dunks, on back-to-back plays, for V.J. Beachem
  • Two 3-point buckets, on back-to-back possessions, for Beachem
  • A layup for Austin Torres
  • Another 3-pointer for Beachem
  • Three minutes later, Farrell hit Beachem for the sixth time overall and the senior’s final of six triples on the afternoon
  • A layup for Steve Vasturia

Nine assists resulted in 22 Irish points (and thus Farrell accounted for 37 of Notre Dame’s 84 in an 18-point victory over the Orange.

“We have a lot of basketball IQ guys that can pass and catch, and make a shot,” said head coach Mike Brey. “That’s the recipe for being able to attack a zone.

“One of the things we didn’t want to do was stand with the ball above our heads looking at that zone,” Brey added. “We wanted to drive the ball and I think that really distorted their zone.”

The Irish assisted on 20 of their 29 field goals Saturday (Rex Pflueger fed Farrell for a trio of his four triples among them). Included among V.J. Beachem’s career-high 30 points were eight assisted baskets and 22 of his total points.

“We’re confident in what we do and the guys that we have in the offense that we run,” said Farrell. “In practice, getting reps against the zone and getting it (zone entries) below the free throw line was a big emphasis for us.”

Syracuse produced just eight assists in defeat.

BIG BONZ ON THE BOARDS

Patience proved prudent for Colson Saturday as Notre Dame’s instrumental inside presence squeezed off just eight shots while occupying the high post vs. Syracuse’s 2-3 Zone.

He made his living outrebounding the Orange frontline instead.

All of it.

Colson corralled 14 boards, the third time he’s reached the total in seven ACC games played to date. (He had 14 vs. Fort Wayne as well with a career-best 17 coming in early December vs. Iowa.)

He added three assists, two resulting in layups, the third a triple by Pflueger.

Conversely, Syracuse’s quartet of big men Tyler Lydon, Taurean Thompson, Tyler Roberson and DaJuan Coleman finished with a combined 13 boards in 84 aggregate minutes as the Irish dominated the battle of the boards, 39 to 28, limiting The ‘Cuse to just seven on the offensive end.

“Roberson is such a great offensive rebounder (none in 11 minutes), as is Lydon (three in 40),” said Brey. “(The goal was) to defend and keep it to one-and-done, and we did.

Beachem added seven rebounds while Torres snared five in 12 minutes.

BREATHING ROOM COURTESY THE D

Driving to the hole. Hitting the (most) open man. Making the extra pass. Knocking down open looks.

All of the above provided Notre Dame the offense it needed Saturday.

The defense did the rest.

“Most of the night they had to take a tough shot, a challenged shot,” said Brey. “And then they didn’t get many put-backs; boy, then you have some breathing room on offense because you’re guarding continually like that.”

“We had their field goal percentage under 40 for most of the game,” Brey noted. “We talked about that, so I was pleased to see us get back to defending.”

Doing damage on both ends was the game MVP, Beachem.

“V.J. was fabulous. That might have been brewing for awhile,” said Brey of his 30-point outburst. “When we can get him flowing like that it’s a confidence giver to his teammates. I think what may have helped him is we had him guarding Lydon a little bit after he got going.

“It was different kind of defensive challenge for him.”

Notre Dame has limited four of its seven league foes to a field goal percentage south of 42 percent.

  • Pittsburgh 37.5% (W)
  • Louisville 39.1% (W)
  • Clemson 49.1% (W)
  • Miami 38.1% (W)
  • Va. Tech 49.1% (W)
  • Florida State 50% (L)
  • Syracuse 41.8% (W)

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