Notes: Notre Dame figures it out without PG Matt Farrell

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Wearing street clothes and doing his best to coach up his teammates and even the crowd Wednesday during an impressive 88-58 victory over North Carolina State, injured star Bonzie Colson was joined on the bench for the second half by teammate Matt Farrell, who limped off with five minutes remaining in the first half with a sprained left ankle.

Farrell was hurt on a drive to the hoop when he stepped on the foot of North Carolina State’s Lennard Freeman. Farrell’s foot rolled hard before he fell to the floor. He returned during intermission to warm-up with his teammates. He took one jumper – it banged long off the back rim – before shaking his head and limping over to the Irish bench. He sat for a few minutes, limped back out and took two more jumpers before leaving for good.

Farrell, averaging 16.8 points and 35 minutes a game, will not make the trip for Saturday’s first ACC road game against Syracuse.

“He’ll be very questionable,” Brey said. “He’s got some swelling. It’s one of those that I don’t think is going to be ready. I would hope that he’d be healthy to play Wednesday in Atlanta (against Georgia Tech).”

Brey is planning on not having Farrell. He wasn’t an option for Wednesday’s second half and the Irish did just fine with T.J. Gibbs and Rex Pflueger taking over ball-handling duties.

“That group is so confident and upbeat,” Brey said. “Bonzie’s been down a day and we’re practicing and then Matty goes down and then T.J. Gibbs, you just see him and Rex go, ‘OK, we’re running this now.’

“That’s the culture of the program.”

Notable numbers

Lost in the hoopla of Brey getting victory No. 394 at Notre Dame (Page A-1) to become the winningest coach in program history was that Wednesday’s 88-58 victory was the largest margin of victory for the Irish in an ACC game.

“Was it really?” Pflueger said. “That was pretty dope. I just thought we were playing a great collective game.”

A game that saw the Irish finish with a season-high 20 assists. With Colson in the lineup, the Irish had a tendency to stand and watch him work. On Wednesday, moving and cutting was emphasized. The Irish did that, and shared the ball better than at any point this season. They flowed.

Pflueger expects more of the same Saturday in the Carrier Dome.

“(Heck) yeah,” he said. “Our ball movement was tremendous and honestly, we can get better at it, which is a great thing to say after a 30-point win.

“This gives us a lot of confidence. Our mindset is to go up there and attack.”

Still searching

What might the Irish look like Saturday without Farrell? Without Colson for who knows how long? Notre Dame seemed to have found something Wednesday with a four-around-one smaller starting lineup that included freshman D.J. Harvey, who scored a career-high 17 points in a career-best 30 minutes.

How the Irish operate may change from week to week, even game to game depending on, well, everything. They had only one day of practice – Tuesday – to work on what they could be without Colson. Reality may eventually set in, especially after the first league loss.

“Everything’s on the table as we move forward,” Brey said. “All options are open the next two months with this. I’m still figuring out our identity offensively.”

And figuring out who plays when. Everyone’s available, like Wednesday when nine Irish each logged at least 12 minutes. A first half that saw Notre Dame shoot 61.3 percent from the field and erupt for 48 points also saw eight different lineup combinations.

“We,” Brey said, “were winging it a little bit.”

NOTRE DAME 88, NC STATE 58

NC STATE (10-5): L.Freeman 4-6 2-3 10, Yurtseven 2-8 0-2 4, Dorn 3-5 3-4 9, A.Freeman 5-16 0-1 13, Beverly 3-11 0-0 8, Abu 2-6 0-2 4, Hunt 1-1 0-0 3, Batts 2-6 3-3 7, Kirk 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 8-15 58.

NOTRE DAME (12-3): Geben 4-9 2-2 10, Gibbs 6-12 7-8 22, Pflueger 5-9 4-6 16, Farrell 3-5 0-0 9, Harvey 6-9 2-4 17, Mooney 1-4 2-2 4, Gregory 0-0 0-0 0, Burns 1-2 1-2 3, Torres 2-2 1-1 5, Djogo 1-4 0-0 2, Nelligan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-56 19-25 88.

Halftime--Notre Dame 48-36. 3-Point Goals--NC State 6-18 (A.Freeman 3-8, Beverly 2-7, Hunt 1-1, Kirk 0-1, Batts 0-1), Notre Dame 11-25 (Harvey 3-4, Farrell 3-5, Gibbs 3-6, Pflueger 2-5, Djogo 0-1, Burns 0-1, Geben 0-1, Mooney 0-2). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--NC State 28 (Dorn 5), Notre Dame 41 (Geben 13). Assists--NC State 12 (Beverly 5), Notre Dame 20 (Gibbs 5). Total Fouls--NC State 21, Notre Dame 14. A--7,563 (9,149).

tnoie@ndinsider.com

(574) 235-6153

Twitter: @tnoieNDI

Notre Dame’s Matt Farrell (5) grabs at his ankle after leaving the game during the NC State at Notre Dame NCAA men's basketball game at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Tribune photo/MICHAEL CATERINA