The Irish had only one lead and that came within the first three minutes of the game. Kentucky consistently led by 10-12 points in the first half, and at one time, the spread was 15. The score at halftime was 39-29. Chris Thomas and Tom Timmermans led the Irish scoring in the first half with nine and eight points respectively. Notre Dame shot 37.9 percent from the field in this stanza while the Wildcats hit on 51.6 percent of their shots.
The second half was almost a repeat of the first half script as the Wildcats had double-digit leads for the most part although the Irish did draw within seven, 40-47, with about 15 minutes remaining. However, Kentucky quickly continued to lead by double digits until the Irish closed the gap to 57-66 with 4:13 remaining. The intensity heightened at this point as the lead was cut to three with 1:03 to go, but the Irish couldn't get any closer and the Wildcats finished off the scoring with a meaningless dunk with only 00.03 seconds on the clock to make the final score 71-63.C
hris Thomas and Torrian Jones led the Irish scoring with 16 each, followed by Tom Timmermans with 10 and Chris Quinn nine. The Irish shooting percentage tells the story of the game as they only hit on 24-62 for 38.7 percent. The three-point weapon was not there for the Irish as they were only able to convert on 3-17 for a paltry 17.6 percent.
Chuck Hayes led the Kentucky scoring with 21, with 17 of those coming in the second half. Gerald Fitch added 15 points as the Cats shot 52.9 percent from the field on 27-51. Kentucky improves to 13-2 and the Irish fall to 9-6.
Chris Thomas said, "We don't seem to have any good luck at home. I felt we did a tremendous job of defending, working the ball on offense and just playing within ourselves in the second half. The effort we gave was great, and we left it all out there on the court. It's just too bad it ended the way it did."
When Torrian Jones was asked if he ever had thoughts that this team couldn't beat good teams he quickly responded, "I never feel that way. I'm a competitor and always will be, and I never let those types of thoughts get in my head. I speak for my teammates as well when I say the same thing for them. We know how good we can be. We know the talent level we have here and we just need to grow up to that challenge. We can't keep talking and having this conversation; we have to realize that it is time to go and get into it."
Coach Brey commented after the game, "We lost to a heckuva basketball team tonight; an experienced group that plays pretty well on the road. They were really consistent for 40 minutes, and I don't think we were very good in the first half. We were a little excited. I thought in the second half we defended a little better and our shot selection was better.
We put ourselves into position but they're a little bit too mature for our group right now," Brey continued. "We were a little immature in the first half, I thought, defensively and toughness around the bucket and shot selection. Second half was pretty good. We put some game pressure on them but you can't dig a hole against some men, and they are men. We have trouble playing older guys. We are the younger group, and it is very glaring but I am very proud how we fight and battle and go after it. We have a lot of heart and a lot of character."
The Irish return to Big East action at home Wednesday, January 28th, against Miami.