Raise your hand if you saw Notre Dame basketball beating the Virginia Cavaliers by over 20 points on Saturday. Put your hand down, Micah Shrewsberry, even you didn’t see this coming.
The only thing that would have been harder to see coming than a Fighting Irish basketball team blowing out an almost certain NCAA Tournament team was the fact that they never trailed. Never really came close to trailing. And a big reason for that was J.R. Konieczny’s leadership in the first half.
Konieczny started the game hitting each of his first shots on Saturday afternoon. Quite a few of those buckets came as the Irish built out a 13-0 lead to start the game that was whittled down by Virginia every now and then but never really came close to evaporating.
Notre Dame basketball led 41-24 at the half and finished the game with a 76-54 victory. It was the biggest win of the season for the Fighting Irish. It was the kind of win that first-year head coach Micah Shrewsberry can hang his hat on.
The former Penn State coach can point to this win as proof that his culture is working. Especially considering that his team is 2-0 after an ugly loss to The Citadel that had him threatening jobs and offering to show some players the door.
Notre Dame basketball gets massive win over Virginia
After that loss, Notre Dame managed to get a slim win over Marist and even after that game, Shrewsberry was talking about how he felt his players were showing more buy-in. It was a bit hard to see that night.
It’s not hard to see that the Notre Dame basketball team did actually find another level.
While Konieczny’s 17 points and 4-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc was a contributing factor to the victory, Carey Booth’s 17 points and 9 rebounds were big as well. There was also the gact that Virginia’s best player, Reece Beekman was bottled up, even if he had 15 points.
Beekman hit just 5-of-15 shots to get those 15 points and his performance hsowed a dominating Notre Dame basketball defense that allowed the Irish to improve to 6-7 on the season and 1-1 in the ACC.