Notre Dame coach Mike Brey wanted to get his backcourt tandem of Matt Farrell and T.J. Gates back on track after an up-and-down four-game stretch, and the duo obliged with their most explosive performance of the season. The 18th-ranked Fighting Irish attempt to keep their offense on track Saturday when they square off against Indiana in the annual Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Arena in Indianapolis.
After Notre Dame shot 53.4 percent from the field and averaged 84.5 points during its 6-0 start - which included a Maui Invitational championship run - Brey watched his team dip to 44.5 percent and 70.3 points, respectively, during a 1-2 stretch that included a stunning home loss to Ball State. Farrell (16.5 points) and Gibbs (14.5) combined for 22 points or fewer in each game during that stretch, but the duo rebounded in a big way last Saturday in a 92-68 win at Delaware, pouring in 45 points as the Irish shot 56.9 percent. The Hoosiers are wrapping up a challenging five-game stretch in this contest, managing only a Dec. 4 home win against Iowa over that time. Indiana, which has also faced the likes of Duke and Michigan over the last 2 1/2 weeks, led at Louisville at the break before going 0-for-12 beyond the arc after halftime to fall 71-62.
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, Fox
ABOUT INDIANA (5-5): The Hoosiers have finished among the top six in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage four times in the last six seasons, but they stand 273rd in Division I after going 5-for-23 against the Cardinals - the sixth time in 2017-18 they have shot below 30 percent beyond the arc. The perimeter struggles have opened the door for a pair of forwards - junior Juwan Morgan (team-high 14.1 points) and sophomore De’Ron Davis (11.5) - to carry the team offensively. “We have to just keep pounding the ball in the paint. … We don’t do it as much or as efficiently as we need to. I think we have to start off games that way, instead of trying to just cash 3s,” Morgan told the Indianapolis Star.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (8-2): Senior preseason All-American forward Bonzie Colson (team-high averages of 19.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.3 blocks) extended his double-digit scoring streak to 27 games Saturday and posted his 28th career double-double with 19 points and 12 boards, moving him into 15th place on the school’s all-time list. Colson is the only player in the ACC to rank among the top five in five different individual statistical categories: points (third), rebounds (fifth), steals (third), blocks (fifth) and defensive rebounds (7.8, second). Forward Martinas Geben (9.0 points, 6.1 rebounds) is shooting 72.3 percent from the field in his senior campaign and has taken advantage of more playing time over the last five games, averaging 10.8 points and 7.4 boards.
1. Brey is three wins shy of tying Digger Phelps (393) for the most victories by a Notre Dame coach in school history.
2. Since a 12-for-21 performance from 3-point range in a Nov. 24 win against Eastern Michigan, Indiana is a combined 20-for-72 over its last four contests.
3. Farrell (27 3-pointers) and Gibbs (25) account for 52 of the team’s 84 made 3-pointers; no other Notre Dame player has connected on more than nine.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame 86, Indiana 75