The Notre Dame players had the past week off for final exams. Ohio State's defense proved to be a test they didn't pass, not in the first half and certainly not in the final minute, as the No. 3 Buckeyes won, 64-61, Saturday night at Madison Square Garden to move to 12-0.
Ohio State boasts the nation's most efficient defense. The Buckeyes are among the best in the country in forcing turnovers and not fouling. They forced 13 turnovers Saturday night, including four in the final minute to overcome a 58-50 deficit.
"I am so thoroughly disappointed," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We had such a good chance at such a great win."
Ohio State turned up the defensive intensity to close the game on a 14-3 run. "I don't really know what happened. It was a big blur," Ohio State senior guard Aaron Craft said. "We never stopped. We never gave up. Guys were running around getting tips and guys made big free throws."
"I'm still trying to figure out what happened," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "My mind was fixated on if we wanted to foul with the time situation or do we play it out defensively, and all of a sudden it was closer and closer and closer and we get the lead. It happened quick. It was a great win."
The Fighting Irish (8-4) did find some success in the paint. Garrick Sherman, a 6-11 center, scored 14 points, shooting 6-for-12.
Brey, known for creative offensive sets that have made Notre Dame one of the better scoring teams in the country since his arrival in 2000, had the Irish better prepared for the second half. Notre Dame went on a 12-4 run to start the half to take its first lead at 38-37. After Notre Dame went 0-for-6 from three-point range in the first half, Eric Atkins (10 points) and Pat Connaughton (13 points, eight rebounds) hit threes during the stretch.
A three-pointer by Jerian Grant (18 points, four assists) gave Notre Dame a 58-50 lead with 1:56 left. But Grant turned the ball over with 58 seconds left leading to LaQuinton Ross' layup with 48 seconds left. OSU's Shannon Scott made two steals in the next few seconds, leading to a layup by Lenzelle Smith and two free throws by Shannon with 41 seconds left to make it 58-56.
more so than a college one, especially considering some of the star freshmen who played here earlier this week.
"I thought we did a good job in the zone knowing the shooters and jamming the lane, keeping it to one and done," Brey said. "And then we got into such a good offensive rhythm to get some breathing room. But you are never going to be out of the woods against a team like that." With AP