UPDATE: Notre Dame men's basketball: Same old bump in the road
Cincinnati routs Irish in another failed road test for ND
That might be a question the Notre Dame men's basketball team is asking itself after vowing that Wednesday would be a whole lot different -- and in a good way -- away from home.
Instead, it was more of the same, a night that ended in a similar way as the other previous five away from home did -- with a shaky Irish effort and another loss.
Seemingly never in it from the opening tip, Notre Dame spent nearly all of 40 minutes scrambling out of a double-digit hole before falling, 71-55, to Cincinnati in front of 10,142 at Fifth Third Arena.
On a night the Irish insisted they would take a step forward, they instead took two steps back. Believing that they would play far better than they did the first two months away from home, the Irish set a season low for points scored in a game they never led and trailed by as many as 17.
They played fast. They played young. They played intimidated.
"I don't believe from the jump that we were ready to play," said guard
Eric Atkins. "I don't know why. It backfired on us and it got the best
"They were more ready to play."
The Irish got as close as eight twice in the final 28-plus minutes.
Other than that, it was all Bearcats all the time.
"Their defense sped us up so much that when we did get open looks, you
could say we got open looks, but they were rushed," said Irish coach
Mike Brey. "We were frazzled."
Jerian Grant was one of the few bright spots for the Irish, who fell
to 9-6 overall, 1-1 in the Big East. Grant scored a team-high 17
points, 12 in the second half, when he was determined to get to the
basket and make something happen.
Battling against big man Yancy Gates, who returned after a six-game
suspension, Irish power forward Jack Cooley offered 15 points and 11
rebounds for his third double-double this season.
"We're just a team in progress," said Cooley. "There was a stretch in
the second half (however slight) that if we would have played that way
the whole game, we would have won by 20."
Instead, the Irish threatened to trail by 20.
Gates contributed six points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes off the
bench for the Bearcats, who improved to 12-3, 2-0 with consecutive win
"It felt real good, man," said Gates. "It's hard watching your team
play every night on TV."
Just under 15 minutes still remained, but the collective looks on the
players' faces said it all for Notre Dame -- what had already been a
long night couldn't end soon enough.
An Atkins 3 cut what had once been a 17-point deficit to 10 with 12:10
remaining. But 63 seconds later, the Bearcats were back up by 14.
One game after shooting 72 percent in the second half and scoring 47
points against Pittsburgh, Notre Dame labored Wednesday to make shots.
The Irish scored a season-low 21 points in the first half. The Irish
squeezed off 28 3s and made five against a suffocating pressure
"A little bit too many (3s)," Brey said. "There was no rhythm to our
offense. I don't think we were ever able to get into any tempo that
was helpful for us."
Atkins, Alex Dragicevich and senior tri-captain Scott Martin finished
with eight, six and zero points, respectively.
"We need one of those guys going," Brey said. "We couldn't get any one
of them going. We need to get two of those three going on the road or
you're just not going to win."
Needing a solid start, maybe like the previous time out against
Indiana when it led by nine early, Notre Dame could do little right
soon after the opening tip. The Irish fell into a five-point hole in
the first four minutes, were down seven less than six minutes in and
then down nine with only 8:02 elapsed.
And when Ge'Lawn Guyn stuck an open 3-pointer with no Irish defender
seemingly in the same area code, the deficit hit double digits -- 22-12
-- with 10:34 still remaining.
Not helping matters was an Irish offense that again sputtered
somewhere between stagnant and non-existent. The Irish connected on
three of their first 11 shots and had four turnovers the first
seven-plus minutes. There were signs of something good -- an Atkins
runner, a Cooley rebound follow -- but nothing substantial could be
Defensively, Brey tried a little of everything. He mixed man and zone
defensively and offered enough personnel combinations to make the
official scorer dizzy.
Nothing really worked. Again.
NOTRE DAME (55): Jack Cooley 7-12 1-3 15, Eric Atkins 3-10 0-0 8, Alex
Dragicevich 2-11 2-2 6, Scott Martin 0-6 0-0 0, Jerian Grant 5-12 5-5
17, Patrick Crowley 0-0 0-0 0, Pat Connaughton 2-6 0-0 5, Tom Knight
2-4 0-1 4, Joey Brooks 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-63 8-11 55.
CINCINNATI (71): Justin Jackson 1-4 3-4 5, Cashmere Wright 4-9 1-3 9,
Dion Dixon 5-13 7-7 18, Sean Kilpatrick 4-10 0-0 9, Jaquon Parker 3-8
2-2 11, Jeremiah Davis 4-6 0-2 10, Cheikh Mbodj 0-0 0-0 0, Ge'Lawn
Guyn 1-3 0-0 3, Jeremaine Sanders 0-0 0-0 0, Yancy Gates 3-4 0-0 6.
Totals 25-57 13-18 71.
Halftime -- Cincinnati 31-21. 3-Point Goals -- Notre Dame 5-28 (Atkins
2-5, Grant 2-8, Connaughton 1-5, Brooks 0-1, Martin 0-3, Dragicevich
0-6), Cincinnati 8-27 (Parker 3-5, Davis 2-3, Guyn 1-2, Kilpatrick
1-6, Dixon 1-7, Jackson 0-2, Wright 0-2). Fouled Out -- None. Rebounds
-- Notre Dame 38 (Cooley 11), Cincinnati 38 (Gates 8). Assists -- Notre
Dame 11 (Grant 4), Cincinnati 13 (Wright 5). Total Fouls -- Notre Dame
14, Cincinnati 15. A -- 10,142.
Staff writer Tom Noie: