The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team (4-4) upset No. 10/12 Kentucky (7-2) 66-62 in a raucous Purcell Pavilion on Saturday night. The Irish made a series of clutch plays in the game’s final minute, including a midrange jumper by South Bend, Indiana, native Blake Wesley with 12 seconds remaining.
The Irish defense then held Kentucky on defense, grabbing a loose ball rebound and eventually getting the ball to Dane Goodwin for a break away dunk at the buzzer.
The victory over the Associated Press No. 10 ranked team is the first for the Irish since a 76-75 win over Boston College on February 21, 2001. It also marks the second-consecutive victory over a ranked team in the Joyce Center after an 83-73 win over No. 11/11 Florida State on March 6, 2021.
The game was a back-and-forth battle, with no team earning more than a five-point lead. With four minutes left in the first period, the Irish and Wildcats were locked at 24 points apiece.
Six Irish points would come from Kentucky turnovers, but the Wildcats used a dunk to propel themselves to a 30-28 lead to end the first half.
The second half would open with the Irish knotting the score at 39-39 before forcing a timeout. Coming out of the timeout a jumper from Nate Laszewski and a three from Wesley would keep the Irish in the fight at 47-46
A three pointer late in the second half from Trey Wertz had the arena erupting as the Irish closed in on the Wildcats. The Irish finally claimed the lead, 55-54, after a big defensive stop, and a layup from Paul Atkinson Jr. A dunk and layup from Wesley and Goodwin would continue to extend the Irish lead 59-56.
The Irish held a 61-59 lead into the game’s final minutes. To cap a great defensive possession, Kentucky’s Kellan Grady tossed in a desperation three pointer at the shot clock buzzer to give Kentucky a lead – and what would be their final points of the contest with 1:50 left.
Goodwin then drew a foul on a drive to the bucket, but only connected on one free throw to tie the game. The Wildcats ran a play to get an open three pointer, but the shot was missed to give the Irish a chance to take the lead. Wesley drove into the Wildcat defense and tried to find Laszewski on the roll but turned the ball over with :51 seconds left.
Kentucky went back to Oscar Tshiebwe, who led all scorers with 25 points in the game, but the Irish defense responded to force a tough shot and grab the rebound. Wesley then took over, hitting the go-ahead jumper with 12 seconds left, then finding Goodwin after the scramble for the game-ending dunk which led into the Notre Dame student body rushing the court in celebration.
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