Notre Dame fights off hard-charging Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jerian Grant had 23 points and nine assists Saturday, and Pat Connaughton scored all 14 of his points in the second half to lead Notre Dame past Indiana 79-72 in the Crossroads Classic.

The Fighting Irish (8-3) won for just the third time in five games, but never trailed the Hoosiers.

Despite having most of the crowd clad in Indiana red, the Hoosiers (8-3) lost for the second straight year in Indianapolis. Will Sheehey tied his career high with 22 points, while Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell finished with 13.

Notre Dame took a 13-point lead in the first half, forcing the Hoosiers to play catch-up the rest of the afternoon. They never quite did.

Indiana tied the score twice early in the second half, and were within one or two points for most of the final 10 minutes. But the Irish pulled away in the final minute to seal it.

It was an off-night for Indiana's usually staunch defense.

After allowing 47 points in the first half, tied for the most it had allowed in any half this season, Indiana reverted to its more customary form in the second half and nearly pulled it out.

Ferrell finally tied the score with a midrange jumper early in the second half, and Noah Vonleh tied it again at 49 with a dunk. But after the Irish missed their first four shots, Connaughton heated up and scored eight of his points during a 12-4 spurt that ended with Connaughton's 3-pointer with 12:36 to play. That made it 59-51.

Indiana charged back with seven straight points to make it 59-58 with 9:55 to go, and but the Irish fended off every challenge the rest of the way.

Connaughton's 3 with 4:57 left gave Notre Dame a little breathing room, 71-66, but the Irish couldn't close it out until outscoring Indiana 8-3 to over the last 82 seconds.

Notre Dame was simply more physical.

Thirteen minutes into the game, the Irish already had a 16-6 scoring edge in the paint and they were outrebounding the nation's No. 1 team, too. The combination allowed Notre Dame to take control by following an 8-3 run with a 9-3 spurt to make it 31-22 with 7:13 left in the first half.

Indiana called time out, but it did nothing to stem the Irish surge. After the timeout, Notre Dame got back-to-back baskets from Zach Auguste and Grant to make it 35-22.

The Hoosiers got back in sync late in the half. Austin Etherington started the charge with a three-point play and Sheehey knocked down a 3 with 2:12 to go, making it 42-36.

Indiana closed the half on a 6-3 run to get within 47-42, but never mounted the kind of comeback it needed to take the lead.