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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: A Surge in Review


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The last time I delivered one of these unconscionably irregular recaps of Notre Dame men’s basketball results, the Irish had ended a long losing streak and sounded a quiet note of hope after what had been a dreary season. A…certain number of weeks later (sorry Pat and Josh) that note has escalated to a crescendo, with the Irish winners of five of their last six. After a lot of growing pains, it seems that Micah Shrewsberry has established the culture he wants and found the scorers he needs on offense to hang with ACC competition. Let’s get into it in what will likely be the happiest article I write about this team all season.

Notre Dame 58, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 55

The Irish notched a rare-in-recent-years season sweep of an ACC opponent when they bested the Yellow Jackets in a defensive battle at home. In a trend that began in the Virginia Tech game and that we saw throughout this stretch of games, there were two keys to the Irish victory: a complete point guard performance beyond simple scoring production from Markus Burton (five assists and five steals on top of 18 points) and the emergence of scorers on other parts of the floor, in this case Tae Davis and his 17 points, to create multiple dimensions of attack on offense.

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This game also saw the Irish finally close out a close game effectively, as they only allowed one basket in the final four and a half minutes, which proved critical as they remained mostly cold on offense aside from Burton and Davis.

Notre Dame 72, Louisville Cardinals 50

After a close and offensively challenged W at home, the Irish began a stretch of much more impressive offensive basketball by stomping the teethed birds of Louisville on their home court. Braeden Shrewsberry was the leader here, exploding for 23 points including seven makes from beyond the three-point line.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Louisville

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Shrewsberry has been hit-and-miss all season, but in this game he showed a spark that could be a game-changer for this Irish team in the future if he can find consistency. Another great Burton performance here (16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists) and timely shooting off the bench from J.R. Konieczny, who didn’t miss a shot all night, supplemented the scoring and helped the Irish bring down the long arm of bird law.

Syracuse Orange 88, Notre Dame 85

The lone L we will be discussing today, this game was a moral victory of sorts. It was probably the best offensive performance Notre Dame has seen all season long and saw the Irish erase a 29-point deficit en route to nearly toppling the Orange on something called “Jim Boeheim Day,” which you will never get me to refer to without quotes.

It was a rare defensive system failure from the Irish in Syracuse, with Judah Mintz racking up 21 points and five Orange in double figures, including our old friend JJ Starling. The Orange had one of the better performances of any team this season beyond the arc against the Irish, at 43.8%. That shooting combined with 17 Irish turnovers helped Syracuse build out the early lead before Notre Dame came roaring back. Burton led the way for the Irish with 28 points in the comeback effort, with Shrewsberry and Davis both putting up double figures in supporting roles. Ultimately, the Irish were two late misses short of completing the comeback, but it was nonetheless encouraging as L’s go.

Notre Dame 70, Wake Forest Demon Deacons 65

Wake Forest were riding high and hearty into South Bend after their controversial court-storming upset of the Duke Blue Devils, and ended up walking into the ultimate trap game. This game saw Burton one-up his own career-high evening the game before as he notched 31 points in a genuinely dominant performance, the first 30-point effort for the Irish since Matt Farrell in 2018. In spite of his dominance, this game also notably featured a more diverse array of scorers for Notre Dame, with Carey Booth putting up 15 points alongside Davis and Shrewsberry’s 11.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Notre Dame

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Shoutout the defense here as well for forcing 12 Deac turnovers, including another four steals from Burton. The Irish knocked the wind right out of a team coming off a historic win, making this one of the absolute high points of the season.

Notre Dame 69, Clemson Tigers 62

In the perfect uplifting cap to this year’s home season, the Irish knocked off a pretty-solid Clemson team on Senior Night in South Bend. Although Burton was again the scoring leader with 21 points, it was Tae Davis’ dominant post play and lights-out free-throw shooting that allowed the Irish to put away the Tigers in the second half. Watch the video highlights for this one and get a look at how different the culture and energy around this program is compared to a couple months ago.

With only two road games remaining this season, this Irish team looks completely different from the one we saw floundering in December and January – a multifaceted and capable-if-not-yet-consistent offense led by a genuine star in Burton now complements solid defensive play. Here’s hoping they can grab at least one more win and then look to make some noise come the ACC tournament.

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