BYU-Notre Dame Preview
With an eight-point lead and just four minutes remaining in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, Notre Dame seemed well on its way to earning a rematch of sorts in the title game.
Instead, it's playing for third after a disastrous collapse.
The 20th-ranked Irish look to bounce back in Saturday night's consolation game at the Barclays Center against a BYU team that has a lot to work on at the defensive end.
Notre Dame (2-1) led Saint Joseph's 66-58 after Eric Atkins' 3-pointer with 4:02 to play in the second half Friday, but those were the final points for Mike Brey's club in regulation. The Irish then went the first 3:51 of overtime without scoring before an Atkins jumper, but the damage was done in a hard-to-swallow 79-70 defeat.
"We're disappointed because we were up eight but they got second shots but what hurt us when we had control is that we had some open looks but couldn't hit them," Brey said. "I'm disappointed with our effort against their frontline, which is a very good one.''
Had the Irish won, they would have earned a championship date with Florida State, the team that dismantled them 71-57 in a 10-over-2 upset in the 2011 NCAA tournament's round of 32.
Now, they'll face a Cougars team that simply couldn't get any stops in its semifinal matchup with the Seminoles. Florida State scored 44 points in each half and shot 58.0 percent overall Friday in an 88-70 win.
"(They) sped us up and we took some quick shots, but besides that Florida State shoots 58 percent from the field," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "Our defense was slow. Our rotations were slow. They did a great job of finding the open man and made some great passes along the baseline."
BYU (2-1) has plenty to work on offensively as well. After shooting 53.0 percent in season-opening victories over Tennessee State and Georgia State, the Cougars hit just 33.0 percent against the Seminoles.
Aside from Tyler Haws (10 for 20) and Brandon Davies (6 for 11), BYU shot 20.5 percent.
"The most important thing after a loss like this is to challenge the players to play better," Rose said. "They know we can do better and I know that too. We have a few things to work on but we'll be ready for tomorrow."
Notre Dame will have its hands full with Haws and Davies, who have accounted for 56.3 percent of the Cougars' points, while the Irish feature a more balanced attack. All five starters scored in double figures Friday, but preseason All-Big East forward Jack Cooley failed to score a basket in the final 14 minutes.
Cooley finished with 14 points and 13 boards before fouling out in OT. Notre Dame is 13-2 in Cooley's two seasons as a starter when he scores 16 points or more and 11-10 when he has 15 or fewer.
Atkins, who had 12 points and 10 assists Friday, fell to the court and screamed in pain with cramps in both legs after missing what would have been the go-ahead basket at the end of regulation. He returned midway through overtime and should be good to go Saturday.
Notre Dame and BYU haven't met since a 64-52 Irish win in the quarterfinals of the 2000 postseason NIT in South Bend.