N0. 23 Notre Dame moved to 2-0 in the ACC by outlasting No. 9 Louisville, 77-70, for a home win on Wednesday night. The Fighting Irish were able to hold off the Cardinals by knocking down free throws as they went 22-for-25 as they were able to ice the game down the stretch.
This win was important for the Fighting Irish because they remain unbeaten in a brutal league and they’ve done so without senior V.J. Beachem playing well in league play. Beachem is averaging just under 15 points per game on the season and he’s only scored eight points in 69 minutes of ACC play so far as he was held to two points in the Notre Dame win on Wednesday.
With Beachem struggling to find his offense, the Irish once again got solid efforts from Bonzie Colson (18 points, 14 rebounds), Steve Vasturia (24 points) and Matt Farrell (22 points) while the bench also came through with some solid all-around efforts.
For Notre Dame to be 2-0 with basically nothing from Beachem shows how far Farrell has come since the beginning of the year. The junior has really grown comfortable in his role as the Notre Dame lead guard and he does a great job of mixing attacks to the rim and jumpers.
Louisville (12-3, 0-2) drops to 0-2 after previously falling at home to Virginia. The Cardinals continue to get good games from sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell (20 points) and junior guard Quentin Snider (12 points) was also solid. Sophomore forward Deng Adel struggled a bit to a 4-for-13 finish as he ended with 10 points.
One concerning thing for the Cardinals is their true lack of a go-to scorer. This was still a one-possession game with under two minutes left and the Louisville offense tried repeated attempts at lobs to Anas Mahmoud. That goes to show their confidence level in finding one guy who can just go and get a bucket for them in a tight game.
Notre Dame has Vasturia for those tough shots as the senior once again buried a tough runner to make it a two-possession game and put things out of reach for the Cardinals. Coming off of the game-winning three-pointer on the road at Pitt, Vasturia has a lot of confidence in late-game situations.
If Notre Dame is able to get Beachem going again they have the kind of scary offense that is going to be tough to contain for the rest of the season. Farrell has adequately replaced Demetrius Jackson at point and the other experienced pieces in Colson and Vasturia have also developed into consistently productive weapons. Beachem playing at his best could mean Notre Dame is in the discussion to be a surprise ACC contender.