In two conference contests away from South Bend, the Irish have lost both by double digits. Not only that, but Georgetown and Villanova both shot over 50 percent. However, this team is dynamite at home. In addition to being 14-0 this year, Notre Dame has won 16 in a row at the Joyce Center. In the 14 victories, they've won by double digits in 13 of them.
"I think we're confident and in a good rhythm here," head coach Mike Brey said about his team. "I don't want to overanalyze it. Our guys really love to play here. Our crowds, despite not being full, have been pretty good. You get up out of your seat when you watch this group. They move you even if you don't feel like moving too much on a Sunday afternoon."
*Despite the win, South Florida did have a player who put up some gaudy numbers. Kentrell Gransberry, a 6-9, 270-pound center for the Bulls, scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. The size of his body, added with some athleticism, made him a daunting presence down low in the post. He shot 10-of-17 from the field.
"Kentrell was one of the few bright spots we had," South Florida head coach Robert McCullum said. "His numbers are impressive. They were times when he was impatient inside and we thought it would be better if he kicked it out. Whenever he caught the basketball, he put Notre Dame at a disadvantage. He's certainly to be commended for his efforts."
The one downfall in his performance was free throw shooting. Gransberry shot just 3-of-12 from the charity stripe. Brey was glad that his baskets didn't count for more.
"Their big guy is really, really good," Brey said. "He's one of the better big guys in the league. But I'm glad those were two-point shots going in instead of three-pointers. The lead doesn't close down on you."
*Russell Carter is probably not going to point towards Sunday's game as one of his best. The senior forward shot just 4-of-13 from the field and scored nine points. Carter came into the game the Big East's third leading scorer at 18 PPG. He had scored in double figures in every contest this season. That streak was broken against the Bulls. Carter appeared frustrated with the physicality of the South Florida defense.
"Russ is a marked man in the league now," Brey said. "They really took him away physically and overplaying him. But it opened up some things for us. It's new territory for us. It's almost a box and one mentality on him, more than Falls. It might have been more that earlier in the year. They try to take Carter away because he brings energy for us."
"That's not any different than what you do in any game," McCullum said. "You're going to talk about how to contain the guys who score and have the highest field goal percentage. We talked him. We talked Falls. We talked about Harangody because he's been playing good. Then you can't forget about Kurz because he's the second leading scorer. Again, there are so many weapons there and it's what makes them the team they are and why they're so tough at home."
*The defense for Notre Dame showed up. The Irish allowed 102 points to Villanova, which was not only a season-high but the most ever under Brey in a regulation contest. Notre Dame showed some grit on Sunday. They held South Florida to 41 percent shooting and 58 total points. The Bulls' leading scorer, Melvin Buckley, was just 3-of-10 from the field. Brey went back to some pre-season basics.
"We went back to some October drills with taking away drives and taking away the paint," Brey said. "We practiced on doubling down on big guys and scratching out rebounds. We got back to that the last two days and mixed the jerseys up in practice. We weren't playing starters versus the other guys. We needed that intensity and we need that tomorrow in practice. That's been a good routine for us."