MURPHY’S LAW RATIFIED
It wasn’t until the final five minutes that a competitive game completely slipped through the hands of Notre Dame Tuesday night and turned into a 71-54 Virginia rout.
But even when the sum of the first 35 minutes was tabulated, the math was completely imbalanced in the Cavaliers’ favor.
It was a 40-minute summation of basketball frustration for the Irish (17-4, 6-2).
“They imposed their will on us,” said Irish head coach Mike Brey, who fell to 0-5 against Virginia since joining the ACC and 0-6 all-time versus Virginia head coach Tony Bennett.
“Our guys are really disappointed. We can’t really dwell on it, but it’s the first time we’ve had our butts kicked.”
Kicked, stomped, trampled…everything but spat upon.
• Virginia out-rebounded Notre Dame, 38-22, including 10-2 on the offensive boards.
• Virginia, because of its dominance on the backboards, scored 15 second-chance points to Notre Dame’s two. Notre Dame’s two offensive rebounds were corralled by 6-foot-1 Matt Farrell, one on a loose ball.
• Virginia made 9-of-19 three-pointers, including 6-of-10 in the second half; Notre Dame made 3-of-18 – 2-of-10 in the first half and 1-of-8 in the second half.
• The normally sharp-shooting Irish were just 11-of-17 from the free-throw line (64.7 percent) while the visiting Cavaliers converted 12-of-14 (85.7 percent). Virginia came into the game shooting at a 67.9 clip in ACC play.
• Virginia freshman Ty Jerome, who came into the game 10th on the team in scoring at 2.1 points per game and with just five three-pointers in 18 games, scored eight points – all in the second half – on 3-of-3 shooting and 2-of-3 from three-point range.
“We were the talk of college basketball,” Brey said. “You’ve got all these great stories, Matt Farrell, and winning in exciting ways…You can get a little spoiled that way as much as you’re trying to turn the page.
“I’ve always been ready to manage something like this, or a couple punches. We haven’t had to take them yet. But tonight was a thorough beating, which we need to turn into two great practices and getting an edge back.”
Bonzie Colson kept Notre Dame in the game by scoring 20 of Notre Dame’s 57 points. His 8-of-11 shooting was one of the few bright spots. The rest of the team converted just 12-of-37 field-goal attempts.
“They just out-played us,” said Colson, who managed just three rebounds after entering the game with an average of 10.9 caroms per game. “They out-played us and they’re a real good team.”
“We can learn from this,” said Steve Vasturia, the only other Irish player in double figures with 14 points. “They showed us that we’ve got to get a lot better.
“Coach mentioned it’s still the first half of the season. We’ve got to learn from it, and since it’s such a quick turnaround, you’ve got to learn from it quick.”
The Irish travel to Georgia Tech for a Saturday tilt with the Yellow Jackets, followed less than 48 hours later by a home game against Duke.
NO DAY AT THE BEACH(EM)
Senior V.J. Beachem was coming off a career-high 30 points less than 72 hours earlier.
Same basketball court, different opponent, different results.
Beachem made 1-of-10 field-goal attempts and missed all five of his three-point attempts against Virginia after making 12-of-22 from the field and 6-of-10 from three-point range against Syracuse Saturday.
“We had a lot of great looks tonight, especially in the first half,” said Beachem, who finished with three points – all on a three-point play within the first three minutes of the second half.
“I had open looks that I missed in the first half. Even in the second half, I think I had some shots that I’m used to making.”
Notre Dame trailed by just one at halftime, but it was the missed opportunities in the first half that contributed to the second half getting out of hand. The Cavaliers out-scored the Irish over the final 20 minutes, 44-28. Virginia’s first double-digit lead came with 3:55 remaining.
“V.J. had some great looks; he just missed ‘em,” Brey said. “He had really good looks in the first half, and that’s the kind of thing that gets him going. Second half, he forced a couple, but everybody did because we were frustrated trying to get stuff.
“For V.J. to get into his flow, if he makes those in the first half, he’s feeling better.”
50-50 BALLS? MORE LIKE 10-90
Virginia (16-3, 6-2) came up with loose ball after loose ball. When Notre Dame did come up with a 50-50 ball, the Cavaliers did as well with the possession arrow pointing toward the visitors. When the Irish needed a defensive stop, the Cavaliers came up with an offensive rebound.
Not only did the Irish fall short in virtually every statistical category, they also were on the short end of all things not quantified statistically.
“We were hustling to get (the 50-50 balls) as much as they were,” Brey said. “It ping-ponged off of four guys and they came up with every one of them. When that happens for like the fourth time, I don’t like the feel of the night.
“We’re on the floor, it bounces off somebody’s head, they get it, pass, dunk. I’ve been on the other side of this. Maybe karma is karma sometimes.”
Getting beat in all things statistical and non-statistical will help the Irish quickly move on to the next challenge.
“It was a big reality check,” Colson said. “We needed a little reality check to get us back to feeling poor again.”
There’s something to be gained at times through convincing losses.
“I do like that we got our butts kicked because I think it really gets everybody’s attention and intensity up for two great practices, which we kind of need right now,” Brey said. “ We could use two really sharp ones before we play Georgia Tech.
“We are quick pager-turners here in regular-season play, no matter what has happened. The next one is coming at you quick. You kind of flush it and get ready to go.”
The accumulation of games – which happens to all conference teams – sometimes puts thorough, quality practices on the backburner.
“We’ve lost a little bit of a practice rhythm because we had three (games) in a week,” Brey said. “(Wednesday) is an off day, so guys can get their legs under them, and then we have two days of reps.
“You do lose some lengthy reps because you’re trying to save legs. It’s a Catch-22. We’re healthy and I don’t want to get anybody hurt in practice. But we do need an hour of going after each other Thursday.”
Georgia Tech, which opened ACC play with a 75-63 home victory over North Carolina, has lost four of its last six, although those four losses have come at Duke, Louisville, at Virginia Tech (by a point) and at Virginia.
The Yellow Jackets host No. 6 Florida State Wednesday night before the Irish come to town Saturday.