Jan 28, 2013, 11:15 AM EDT
It’s often said that the true measure of a man is how he answers in times of adversity. So I suppose collectively, you could say the same thing about the true measure of a team.
The Irish had dropped three of their last four.
They lost veteran forward Scott Martin indefinitely to a knee injury.
And they trailed USF by seven at halftime in Tampa.
By no means are the Bulls considered a BIG EAST basketball powerhouse, but if there was ever a time to doubt the Irish, this was it.
Instead, led by Eric Atkins, they knocked down four three-pointers in the first 6+ minutes after the break and used a 20-5 run to turn the halftime deficit into an eight-point lead.
The Bulls climbed back to within four, but Notre Dame was in control for most of the second half.
Jerian Grant led all scorers with 18 points and also added eight assists, but it was Tom Knight, making his first start of the season, whose performance stood out most. Playing in place of Martin, Knight pulled down seven rebounds and scored a career-high 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
Atkins (13 points) and Pat Connaughton (12) also scored in double figures.
Maybe Saturday’s win is the type of game that gets Notre Dame back on track. We’ll see. The Irish host the red-hot Villanova Wildcats, who are coming off a pair of top-five victories (against #3 Syracuse and #5 Louisville), on Wednesday at 6 pm ET on ESPN2.
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