Mar 18, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Rex Pflueger (0) celebrates as time expires in the game against the Michigan Wolverines in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

RECAP: Notre Dame sits atop the ACC with win over Clemson

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(Photos courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics)

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are now sitting at the top of the ACC standings-next to Florida State-after defeating the Clemson Tigers 75-70 and improving to 3-0 in league play.

This game resembled that of the Notre Dame vs Clemson football game back in 2015 which, like the game in 2015, the Tigers dominated at the beginning but a Notre Dame comeback quickly followed. The only difference between these two games is the Irish sealed the deal Saturday.

This is only the second time in school history in which the Fighting Irish are 3-0 in conference play.

“Great league game” said head coach Mike Brey. “Our will to win and guys that we have with some great mental toughness and fearlessness really delivered at key times, it’s a great trait to have and we are 3-0 because of it”.

With their win over Clemson Saturday afternoon, the Irish improved to 5-0 in their all time series against the Tigers, and 11-0 this season at home.

“Our crowd was fabulous” said Mike Brey immediately following the game. “Our sixth man, they were even better than Wednesday and we needed every bit of them down the stretch”

This was a big game that the Fighting Irish needed to win in order to keep their momentum as they enter a three game road gauntlet that includes the Miami Hurricanes, the 21st-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, and the 12th-ranked Florida State Seminoles.

Mike Brey did not like the start the Irish had in the opening three minutes of the game, as the head coach called a timeout following an 8-0 run by the Tigers to open the game.

The Irish were down 10-0 before forward Bonzie Colson got his squad on the board with a pair of foul shots which sparked a 17-2 run by the ‘Golden Domers’, putting themselves in the drivers seats leading 17-12. Notre Dame shot 44.4% from the three point line and 44% from the field in the first half.

Following the Irish scoring burst, the Tigers got hot themselves, going on a 14-3 run that included four three pointers.

Clemson went into the locker room at half with a 40-33 lead over the Irish looking to pull off the upset and to take advantage of the struggles Irish point guard Matt Farrell was experiencing.

Farrell could not buy a basket, scoring only three points in the opening half, turning the ball over four times and missing a layup.

“He was a mess”, Mike Brey Stated, “I challenged him, you know I was disappointed in him, as well as he has played, he is one tough dude and he reacted the way I thought he would”.

Farrell woke up in the second half, scoring 12 of his total 15 points as well as finishing the game with seven assists.

It was Matt Farrell who sealed the deal for the Irish, propelling them to a victory.

With 37 seconds left in the game and the Irish up 72-70, Matt Farrell held the ball outside the three point line where he pulled up and drained the 26 foot dagger. The Irish extended their lead to five with 10 seconds left and went on to win 75-70.

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Colson was outstanding as always, recording his 10th double double of the season (an ACC best) scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 boards while VJ Beachem finally found his shot after a cold performance against Louisville. Beachem led the Irish in scoring, recording 22 points, going 6-10 from the three point line.

Steve Vasturia was the fourth Irish player to record double digit figures, scoring 14 points, grabbing three boards, dishing out two assists and stealing the ball two times.

Rex Pflueger led the Irish bench in scoring, recording five points, four rebounds and three assists.

Notre Dame will hit the road to South Beach, where they will take on the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday January 12th at 7 p.m EST. The Irish and the Hurricanes played twice last year with Miami winning both contests. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.

-R. Scarfone