Notre Dame plays Binghamton tonight in what SHOULD be a blowout in the Irish’s favor. But could the loss of Rex Pflueger make it at all interesting?
Well folks, it was a bittersweet weekend for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team, as they added a solid win to their resume by taking down the Purdue Boilermakers in the Crossroads Classic (and improving to 7-3 on the year), but also lost senior Rex Pflueger for the season with a torn ACL.
Pflueger had really picked up his play of late after a rocky start to the season, going for 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists against UCLA and then dishing out 10 assists — at least a few of them being absolute DIMES — and scoring 7 points against Purdue before going down in the 2nd half.
The Irish, as a team, played some pretty good basketball on Saturday, with newly-named-captain John “John Mutton” Mooney dropping 21 and 7, DJ Harvey going for 19 and 5, and Dane Goodwin really stepping up in a big way with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting and 4 rebounds to go with it. Goodwin’s emergence will be especially important with the loss of Pflueger.
Now, the Irish have just a few more games before ACC play begins on New Year’s Day, starting with the Binghamton Bearcats on tonight.
Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup.
- The Irish and Bearcats will be meeting for just the second time, with Notre Dame claiming an 82-39 victory in 2014 (per Alan Wasielewski, Associate Athletics Communication Director)
- The 39 points ND held Binghamton to in 2014 marked just the third time in the Mike Brey era that the Irish held an opponent below 40 points in a game (33 vs. Monmouth, 11/16/07; 38 vs. Charleston Southern, 11/26/04) (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Notre Dame is 16-0 all-time against teams from the America East Conference (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Notre Dame junior forward John Mooney is currently second in the ACC in rebounding (9.4 per game) and double-doubles (five in ten games played), and is nearly averaging a double-double this season (12.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg) after entering the season with 4.5 ppg and 3.3 rpg career averages (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Sophomore D.J. Harvey has reached double figure scoring in four consecutive games, including scoring 19 points against Illinois and Purdue; over the last four games, Harvey is averaging 15.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg (per Alan Wasielewski)
Where: Purcell Pavilion — Notre Dame, Indiana
When: Tuesday, December 18th at 7:00 PM ET
How to Watch:
- TV: ACC Network Extra with Tony Simeone, Luke Zeller and Ally Sturm
- Live Stream: WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app
- Radio: Notre Dame Basketball Network (also available on the Notre Dame app) - with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland
Binghamton Bearcats (3-8)
The Binghamton Bearcats are not a very good basketball team.
Their only 3 wins so far in 2018 are against schools called Misericordia, Sacred Heart, and Hartwick — I certainly can’t say any of those wins instills any sort of fear into the Irish, or their fans.
The team is led by freshman guard Sam Sessoms, who averages 17.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. He’s helped out by senior guard J.C. Show (11.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and senior forwards Chancellor Barnard (8.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.9 bpg) and Caleb Stewart (8.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.1 bpg), both of whom have the ability to swat some shots at the rim.
Besides that core of 4, guards Richard Caldwell Jr. (6.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Albert Odero (6 ppg, 2.3 rpg), Timmy Rose (5 ppg, 2.8 apg), Everson Davis, and Tyler Stewart (5.4 ppg, 2 rpg) all get some minutes and chip in, but overall the Irish really just need to focus on shutting down Sessoms, containing Show, and on John Mooney and Juwan Durham holding down the paint against the 6’4” Barnard and 6’9” Stewart.
I don’t see the Irish really struggling here, as Mooney and Harvey continue to play well, Durham continues to develop and contribute, and guys like Dane Goodwin and Prentiss Hubb continue to step up into bigger contributing roles.
And, hopefully, T.J. Gibbs will rediscover his game and make this a potentially dangerous team as the Irish head into ACC play in 2019.
Bearcat to Watch
Sam Sessoms, Guard, Freshman
Sessoms has come in as a freshman and made this his Binghamton team, leading them in points and assists in his first season there. He’s their best and most talented player, so if T.J. Gibbs and Prentiss Hubb can lock him down defensively, the Irish should not have trouble in this one. If he’s able to do his thing, however, maybe this could be interesting. He probably doesn’t have enough help, even in that scenario, for the Bearcats to pull the upset, though.
Dane Goodwin, G, Freshman
I’m gonna go ahead and pick a freshman guard to single out on the ND side as well.
Goodwin has been very good so far this year, showing little weakness in any aspect of the game and reminding a lot of people of Steve “White Steve” Vasturia in that regard.
With Pflueger down for the count, Goodwin will almost certainly see increased playing time and be asked to pick up more slack, especially on defense. I think he’s up for the challenge, and this game against a bad opponent is a good place for Mike Brey to really begin asking Goodwin to step into a more substantial role in the rotation.
I don’t think this Binghamton team has much of a chance, even with the loss of Pflueger, whose defense, hustle, and on-court leadership will certainly be missed as this season plays out. In this one, though, it won’t matter, and ND will take care of business.
The Irish win this one 87-65.