Irish visit No. 18 Virginia, seek to end skid vs. ranked foes
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Notre Dame brings a 26-game losing streak against Top 25 opponents into an Atlantic Coast Conference clash with No. 18 Virginia on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va.
The Fighting Irish (3-7, 0-4 ACC) are 0-5 against ranked teams this season, including a 66-57 home setback to then-No. 23 Virginia on Dec. 30 and a 77-63 loss Sunday at then-No. 19 Virginia Tech.
Notre Dame's last victory over a Top 25 foe was a 67-66 defeat of then-No. 6 Wichita State in the Maui Invitational title game on Nov. 22, 2017.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers (7-2, 3-0) are 4-0 at home this season and have won 11 consecutive ACC games stretching back to last February. Virginia is also 15-2 all-time against Notre Dame, including 10-0 in ACC regular-season play.
The Cavaliers' current three-game winning streak (and the Irish's current three-game skid) began with last month's contest in South Bend, Ind.
Kihei Clark led Virginia with 19 points, Jay Huff added 15 and Sam Hauser, who enters Wednesday's contest with three straight double-doubles, delivered 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Cavaliers set a season low with five turnovers against the Irish after committing a season-high 15 in their previous game, a 23-point loss to No. 1 Gonzaga.
Notre Dame got 47 of its 57 points against Virginia from 6-foot-10 Nate Laszewski and 6-11 Juwan Durham, who were a combined 15 of 22 from the field. The rest of the Irish shot a combined 13 percent from the field (3 of 23).
"Durham and Laszewski hurt us," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "We've got to kind of shore up guarding some of these (big men) and do the job."
Bennett's big men shouldered the load Saturday in a 61-49 victory at Boston College. Led by the 7-foot-1 Huff (18 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) and the 6-8 Hauser (17 points, 10 rebounds), Virginia outscored the Eagles by a decisive 32-16 margin in the paint.
"After the Gonzaga loss, I think we all realized that ... we had a lot of work to do, but that was (also) a game where we just didn't play the way we know we can," Huff said after the Boston College game. "We can remember it and then brush it off and move forward. It's almost a game that you just erase, in some ways."
Notre Dame will try to erase the frustration of its Sunday loss in Blacksburg, Va. The Irish led the Hokies by seven at halftime but were outscored 42-21 after the break. They made their last field goal with 12:16 remaining.
Laszewski scored 17 points, doing most of his damage at the free-throw line (11 of 12). Dane Goodwin added 12 off the bench for Notre Dame, which shot just 37.5 percent from the field and 26.1 percent (6 of 23) from deep.
"You're not going to beat a good team playing 20 or 25 minutes, and that's kind of what we've done against really good teams -- and (the Hokies are) really good," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We're learning, trying to learn the hard way to put 40 minutes together."
Four Virginia players were unavailable for the Saturday game: Kadin Shedrick (non-COVID illness), Kody Stattmann (heart issue), Casey Morsell (COVID-19 contact tracing) and Austin Katstra (COVID-19 contact tracing). Their status for the Wednesday game was uncertain.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 12, 2021