ACC Basketball

Fighting Irish Suffer Post-Duke Letdown

Justin K. Aller / Getty Images North America

I’ve been saying it for years…teams in this league who beat Duke, upset or not, always struggle afterward. It’s like they’ve won their Superbowl, party like it’s 1999 and then forget they have another game to play. One day I’m going to prove my theory with actual research, but for now every time something happens to make me look right, I’ll point it out.

Now I want to give Notre Dame credit, they tried to avoid the post-Duke jinx. Led by Jerian Grant, they downplayed the victory, not even letting their student section to storm the court, yet they still couldn’t avoid the defeat.

Of course, Pittsburgh should get some credit. They had a lot to play for, heading into the game riding a three-game slide. I hate to call anything a “Must-win” in late January, but this sure felt like one and the Panthers played like this was a must-win. Shooting nearly 60-percent from the floor (against one of the league’s worst defenses), Pittsburgh controlled the action and held the lead for most of the game.

Yet, give the Irish credit, too. They kept it close all game long even though Grant had just four points in the first 36 minutes. Then with about four minutes to go, tied at 63, the game became about the runs, starting with the Panthers rolling off eight straight, then that’s when Mr. Grant showed up. Starting with a pair of free throws at the 2:57 mark, the senior guard hit a contested jumper, followed by a three to get the Fighting Irish to within one. After Pitt’s James Robinson missed the front end of a one-and-one, Grant was fouled with :32 seconds and nailed both of his free throws to finish off a personal nine-point run that gave the Irish a one-point lead.

However Robinson, who had been the best player on the court all game long, drove into the lane and hit a spinning runner to give Pittsburgh the led again. After a missed opened three from the corner by Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia, Jamel Artis’ two free throws and Robinson’s inbound steal sealed the deal.

Artis led all scorers with 20, but Robinson produced his first double-double, with 15 points and 10 assists to just one turnover. The Irish’s Grant finished with 14 (nine of which came in the game’s final nine minutes), but as a team, they only managed 7-18 from deep

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>