Thursday, January 4, 2018

No. 394– Brey sets record in blowout over NC State

Photo Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

NOTRE DAME, Ind.–  The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-3, 2-0 ACC) began conference play with two straight wins for the second consecutive season following a 88-58 victory over the North Carolina State Wolfpack (10-5, 0-2 ACC).  With the victory, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey picked up his 394th career victory with the Irish, eclipsing Digger Phelps’ previous school record of 393.

“I think the memory about tonight be not be [win] 394, though” Brey said.  “It will be that we lost a heck of a player to an injury yesterday for eight weeks.  We lost a heck of a guard [Matt Farrell] in the first half to an ankle injury, and we played fabulously and fearlessly and got to 2-0 in league play.”

When reflecting on the road to 394 wins, Brey reflected on his introductory press conference back in 2000. “When I got the job in 2000, I’m a young guy,” Brey said. “You just don’t want to get fired.  You’re just trying to be good enough to get one extension.”

The Irish scored 48 points in the first half of play; a team conference play record since joining the ACC and connected on nine three-point field goals as well to propel the scoring.

Late in the first half, Irish guard Matt Farrell suffered a sprained ankle and joined All-American Bonzie Colson on the bench for the remainder of the contest.  Following the game, Coach Brey announced that Farrell is all but ruled out for Saturday’s contest at Syracuse. Farrell finished with nine points, four assists, and two steals in 15 minutes.

Brey also announced that Bonzie Colson put up 22 points and 17 rebounds against Georgia Tech on a fractured foot back on Dec. 30.  The injury occurred during practice on Dec. 29, but did not bother Colson tremendously until Sunday.

With its top two Irish scorers out, Notre Dame needed some of their role players to increase their production.  Freshman D.J. Harvey made his first career start for the Irish and scored 17 points while adding three rebounds. T.J. Gibbs lead the team with 22 points and also tallied seven rebounds.  Gibbs also played all 38 minutes, before being replaced with 1:56 remaining and a 28 point lead. Martinas Geben added his second double-double on the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

“I thought we kinda had a couple of guys say ‘Oh, there’s more for me,” Brey said. “I thought Martin[as] Geben on the backboard was fabulous… And T.J. Gibbs and Rex [Pflueger] just kinda saying we’re running this thing.  You know, it was a little bit of next year’s team playing a lot out there”.

The Irish defense held the Wolfpack without a field goal for the first 8:57 of the second half. During the stretch, Notre Dame pushed its lead to 25 points and took complete control. Over the course of 40 minutes, Notre Dame held NC State to just 36.7% shooting on the evening. The Wolfpack’s shooting woes continued at the charity stripe, where they managed to hit 53.3 percent of their free throws.

Allerik Freeman lead all Wolfpack scorers with 13 points, while Lennard Freeman added 10 points.  Torin Dorn lead NC State with five rebounds throughout the contest.

Looking Ahead:

Notre Dame will head to the Carrier Dome to take on Syracuse on Jan. 6 for 3:15 p.m. ET tip on ESPN2.