As I await my first cheesesteak of Saturday, here are the eight (due to ND’s 8-0 run in the last 19 seconds) key takeaways from ND’s improbable comeback.
1. The first half woes continued last night…in epic fashion, but thankfully Wisconsin’s dumpster fire was raging just as hard as the Irish’s. 19 points. 7-29 from the field. 2 points combined for Jackson and Vasturia. Brey – “I told the guys, we can’t play any worse.” Boy, was he right. When Matt Farrell scores 37% of your 1st half points…there’s a problem.
2. Overall, Auguste played his worst game in two months, even though he picked up (somehow) his 22nd double-double. His four free throws down the stretch on 1-and-1’s were, in my opinion, the key to the game. He has missed similar FTs down the stretch on multiple occasions, but I’ll always remember those HUGE ones. Obviously, it was concerning that he was severely outplayed by Ethan Happ, but he showed up when it counted.
3. Again, when aggressive Demetrius comes out, the Irish are really tough. Why does it take 35 minutes though? Late, he took the ball to the rim over and over again with great success. Then, he made the two steals to complete the larceny. If he truly is a top-15 pick, he needs to show it against UNC on Sunday…for 40 minutes instead of 5.
4. 19 more points for V.J. Beachem. He hit big shot after big shot, and is becoming a hell of a player. The two free throws to put the Irish up three (on another 1-and-1) were enormous.
5. Wisconsin really choked the game away, as Hayes got trapped and lost the ball, leading to a DJ layup to give the Irish the lead. Then down three, Koenig lost control of the ball and DJ cut in at the right time as he was being aggressive due to having a foul to give. Wisconsin fans in the crowd were complaining about fouls, but I think both were clean. Rough last couple minutes for Koenig. Hayes and Vitto Brown hit some huge shots down the stretch, but thankfully, the Irish kept answering.
6. I don’t think Brey knows what to do with Vasturia right now. Offensively, he’s going through a really tough stretch…and his defense hasn’t been that great either. Brey subbed him out more than usual in the 2nd half, because he was so ineffective. He’s going to need to find it…and fast.
7. So Brey strained his calf last night…leading to predictably hysterical reactions from him. What a difference between Brey and Coach K lecturing the kid from Oregon for being excited about winning…
8. UNC looks absolutely unstoppable right now. But did they peak last night? I sure hope so. Check out the preview tomorrow morning. Time for some cheesesteaks.