T.J. Gibbs really good again as No. 13 Notre Dame rolls to 39-point victory in Maui

NDI Staff Report
ND Insider

LAHAINA, Hawaii – Another night at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, another big night for a Notre Dame guard with New Jersey roots.

On Tuesday, it was sophomore T.J. Gibbs going for a career night after a quiet one barely 24 hours after backcourt mate Matt Farrell hit for a career-high 27 points.

Gibbs scored a career-high 26 as No. 13 Notre Dame rolled over LSU, 92-53, in the tournament semifinals at Lahaina Civic Center. Gibbs scored seven points in Monday’s win over Chaminade. He hit for more than that many less than halfway through the first half. It was the third time in the first five games this season that Gibbs has scored a career high.

"It was just trust in my teammates," GIbbs said. " They were doing all the work. I was just happened to hit the easy shots that they were getting me."

Gibbs finished 9-of-15 from the floor, 6-of-10 from 3.

Gibbs, from Scotch Plains, N.J., added four assists and three rebounds to no turnovers in 32 minutes. Farrell, from Bridgewater, N.J., had 17 points and seven assists. Bonzie Colson had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his 26th career double double.

Having won its first five games to open the season a second-straight year, No. 13 Notre Dame (5-0) advances to Wednesday’s championship (10:30 p.m., South Bend time, ESPN2) against No. 6 Wichita State.

"We play a heck of a team," said Irish coach Mike Brey. "We're excited we get to play for a trophy."

The Irish look to win three tournament games in three days for the first time since winning the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship by beating Miami (Fla.), Duke and North Carolina over three-straight nights back in Greensboro, N.C.

Brey now is seven wins away from winningest coach in program history.

Notre Dame never trailed and led by as many as 39.

"I wish I could bottle that for the rest of the season," Brey said of the effort. "I thought we really played well on both ends of the floor. Our experience, I think, showed."

The Irish have done it with defense the first five games, where no opponent shot 40 percent or better from the field. Notre Dame limited LSU to 36.5 percent from the field, 26.1 percent from 3. It also was a season low for points allowed by Notre Dame.

The Irish finished with 12 steals and forced 17 turnovers.

The scoring Irish have become the guarding Irish.

"I'm just thrilled with our defense," Brey said. "The difference with our group is how we're playing defense. They want to be a defensive unit. I don't have to sell it."

Notre Dame entered Tuesday’s semifinal having won its previous four games by an average of 27.5 points per game. That included Monday’s quarterfinal round against Division II host Chaminade, a game the Irish won by 27 thanks to a career-high 27 from Farrell.

LSU advanced with a late-night/early-morning two-point victory over Michigan.

Notre Dame led by as many as 18 and was up by 16 at intermission. There were times when the Irish made it look easy on offense with Farrell running the show. But the Irish made it awfully hard on LSU with a commitment to guard. Not only for one possession. But two and three and four in a row.

The Tigers never got in an offensive flow because the Irish defense just wouldn’t let them. They were talking, moving, swarming for stretches. LSU shot 32.1 percent from the floor, 12.5 percent from 3.

"We do have some quick hands," Brey said.

After going for a relatively quiet seven points in 32 minutes the previous night, Gibbs returned with a big effort early. He connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the first 2:50, then finished a drive and was fouled for an old-fashioned three-point play. It also gave the Irish their first double-digit lead (18-7) at 12:25.

Notre Dame pushed its lead to 20 in the opening minute of the second half.

Michigan’s 38-point victory over Chaminade in the earlier game ended so early that there was a 45-minute gap between the end of that one and the start of the Notre Dame game, the final of four games on the second day of the tournament.

Tuesday’s game tipped at 10:34 p.m. South Bend time. Less than a minute in, LSU lost junior guard Brandon Sampson, the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.3 per game, to a sprained left ankle. He limped off and did not return after going for X-rays.

Tremont Waters, the Tigers’ leading scorer coming in at 17.7, went scoreless in the first half after 14 relatively invisible minutes.

Tuesday was the second-ever matchup between Notre Dame and LSU. The first was a memorable one on Jan. 20, 1990. In front of a then-record crowd at the Superdome in New Orleans, LSU won 87-64. Attendance for the game was 68,122.

Eight Irish entered Tuesday’s game averaging double figures for minutes. Five Tigers entered Tuesday’s game averaging double figures for points.

The Irish coaching staff stayed with their attire from the first game – shorts and t-shirts (this night, green) and sneakers. Shorts were all that Brey packed for the trip. There were no other options.

Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson, left, steals the ball from LSU guard Tremont Waters, right, during the first half of Tuesday's game in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

No. 13 NOTRE DAME 92, LSU 53

At Lahaina, Hawaii

NOTRE DAME (92): Geben 4-4 2-3 10, Colson 5-11 1-3 12, Farrell 5-14 3-3 17, Gibbs 9-15 2-2 26, Pflueger 2-5 2-2 6, Gregory 0-1 0-0 0, Burns 2-3 0-0 4, Torres 0-0 0-0 0, Mooney 3-5 1-3 9, Djogo 1-1 0-0 3, Nelligan 0-0 0-0 0, Harvey 2-4 0-1 5. Totals 33-63 11-17 92.

LSU (53): Reath 6-10 4-5 17, Sims 2-4 0-0 4, Waters 2-7 2-2 8, Mays 3-11 1-1 8, Sampson 0-1 0-0 0, Epps 1-7 0-0 3, Combs 0-0 1-2 1, Kiir 0-0 0-0 0, Alexander 1-4 0-0 2, Vial 0-1 0-0 0, Onwuasor 3-4 0-0 7, Edwards 0-2 0-0 0, Graves 0-1 0-0 0, Rachal 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 19-53 9-12 53.

Halftime_Notre Dame 40-24. 3-Point Goals_Notre Dame 15-32 (Gibbs 6-10, Farrell 4-10, Mooney 2-2, Djogo 1-1, Harvey 1-3, Colson 1-3, Gregory 0-1, Pflueger 0-2), LSU 6-23 (Waters 2-4, Onwuasor 1-1, Reath 1-1, Mays 1-4, Epps 1-5, Vial 0-1, Graves 0-1, Sims 0-1, Edwards 0-2, Alexander 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Notre Dame 35 (Colson 11), LSU 30 (Mays 7). Assists_Notre Dame 18 (Farrell 7), LSU 9 (Onwuasor 4). Total Fouls_Notre Dame 10, LSU 15.