For a full recap of the contest, click here.
Roster RundownPlayer of the Game – Luke Harangody: Ben Hansbrough keyed Notre Dame's 25-7 run to start the contest, but it was Harangody who brought home the "W" with 24 points on a 9-15 shooting effort, including a calculated 2-3 showing from beyond the arc. Furthermore, lost in the post-game euphoria was the fact that the Irish were 5 of 19 from the field in the second half…Harangody hit four of those five successful field goals playing the entire half.
Mildly troublesome was Harangody's 5-rebound effort as the Mountaineers battered the Irish on the glass for 40 minutes (West Virginia had 19 second-chance points). Credit Abromaitis, Nash, and especially Hansbrough for picking up the slack and giving the Irish a fighting chance after a West Virginia miss.
Home Sweet Home – Ben Hansbrough: After a two-game road trip that yielded a 5-17 shooting performance, Hansbrough exploded all over the visiting Mountaineers defense, dishing out a game high 10 assists without a turnover and leading the Irish with nine rebounds. The senior guard took just four shots (finished with six points) and played a game-high 39 minutes in the upset.
Hansbrough inexplicably continues to struggle at the free throw line, missing three of four crucial second-half freebies vs. West Virginia. A deadeye three-point shooter (48 percent on 67 attempts), Hansbrough has rolled 20 free throws off the rim in 67 attempts this season, and has hit just 8 of his 15 Big East attempts from the charity stripe.
A player with his ability to get into the lane and draw fouls has to knock down free throws against top team and his duty as one of the team's two chief ball handlers late furthers the need for consistency from the line.
Friendly Confines – Tim Abromaitis: Another home game, another shooting exhibition from beyond the arc by Abromaitis. The redshirt-junior finished with 17 points (3-4 from long range) on just seven shot attempts. He fought and scratched for three trips to the free throw line (knocking down each of his six shots) and finished second on the squad with 8 rebounds (all defensive) in 34 minutes.
Abromaitis was the only Irish player other than Harangody to hit a shot from the floor (a deep 3-pointer after the Mountaineers had cut the lead to 11 with more than 15 minutes remaining) from the left wing.
Defensive Intensity – Tory Jackson: Jackson helped hound All Big East performer Da'Sean Butler into a 4-20 shooting effort (though Butler's shot selection helped) and along with Hansbrough, keyed the early Irish run with five first half assists and just one turnover.
Jackson continued to struggle from the field, hitting just 1-7 shots and missing each of his three shots from long range. Though Jackson struggled mightily to shake the on-ball defense of West Virginia guard Darryl Bryant in the second half, his 3-4 free throw effort down the stretch was key as the Irish offense stagnated vs. the long arms and quick feet of West Virginia's interchangeable defenders and constant ball pressure. A career 60 percent free throw shooter, the senior hit 7 of 8 free throw attempts late in the second halves of the team's one and two-point victories last week.
Go to the rim, young man – Tyrone Nash: If Nash has learned anything in his first season as a full-time starter, it's to cut to the basket when Irish point guards Tory Jackson and Ben Hansbrough possess the basketball. Each of Nash's five buckets (5-5) occurred on drives and dishes from Jackson/Hansbrough en route to a 13-point, 6 rebound evening in 31 minutes.
In four Big East contests, Nash has scored 29 of his 43 points in the opening half. The junior power forward appears to remain aggressive with 16 first half boards vs. 13 second half rebounds in that same span so the points should follow, if not for Nash due to defensive adjustments, then for Hansbrough or Jackson as both should consider continuing strong to the hole if the weak side help defense plans to stay home.
Quality Time – Joey Brooks: Pressed into action due to the unexpected "leave of absence" by junior forward Carleton Scott, the freshman Brooks responded with eight solid first half minutes, knocking down his first shot (an open corner 3 on a secondary fast break) and finishing a contested layup at the rim (on a feed from Hansbrough) to give the Irish a 20-point lead late in the first half.
Brooks helped the Irish handle a 2-2-1 zone trap upon entry, receiving my "hockey assist" for a pass to Jackson that led to an open corner jump shot by Harangody. More court time will allow the freshman better angles fighting through the screens that awaited him during his first meaningful court moments in Big East action.
The Trifecta: In the three games since his breakout 23-point effort in the conference opener vs. Providence, senior tri-captain Jonathan Peoples has garnered just 34 total minutes, missed each of his five shots in that span, and committed four turnovers vs. three assists. Notre Dame needs more from Peoples, regardless of Scott's pending status.
A capable rebounder when in the flow of a contest, Peoples has just two boards in those 34 frustrating minutes off the bench. Its time for the senior to play with the energy he showed vs. UCLA and Providence as the Irish found a way to win two in a row without a contribution from their sixth man.
DNP – Freshmen Mike Broghammer and Jack Cooley: One or both might have helped for a moment on the boards (West Virginia victimized the Irish with 19 offensive rebounds) but I believe Coach Brey made the right call keeping the two untested freshmen out of this wild contest.
Of course, that decision's prudence accepts the fact that neither was prepared by meaningful time in non-conference play or in the blowout win over Providence, but I digress…
One of the two freshmen big men will have to emerge if Scott does not return to the basketball team.
Review of the PreviewOur pre-conference preview of Saturday's contest vs. West Virginia placed the game among a four-team grouping titled, Flying High as winning any of the four would be considered a steal by the undermanned Irish, and place them on the correct side of what is sure to be a tenuous NCAA Bubble in March.
That pre-season outlook hasn't changed, and the upset over No. 8 West Virginia will resonate with the Selection Committee and is step No. 1 toward putting the 2010 Irish back on the national map after last year's fall from grace.
On TapThe Irish travel to Cincinnati for a Saturday matchup with the Bearcats. Tip-off is set for 4 PM (ET) on ESPNU. Cincinnati stands at 2-2 in conference play (11-4 overall) and will travel to St. John's on Wednesday prior to entertaining the Irish.
A preview of the Cincinnati contest will appear Friday.