SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs showed once again Thursday night that he can share the scoring load for No. 13 Notre Dame, finishing with a career-high 23 points as the Irish won their third straight game to start the season, 105-66 over Chicago State.
“I’ve said from the beginning of fall practice that T.J. shoots the ball better than people think,” said senior point guard Matt Farrell, who finished with 18 points and four assists. “Some teams will key on Bonzie (Colson) and me, and that will open up shots for others. We have confident in them and they have confidence in themselves.”
Coach Mike Brey, who picked up his 385th career win at Notre Dame, likes the way his New Jersey guards Farrell (Point Pleasant Beach) and Gibbs (Seton Hall Prep) are meshing.
“They have a great feel for each other,” Brey said. “Matt and Bonzie have gotten T.J. more confident. I thought he’d be a good shooter when we recruited him.”
Colson, a preseason Associated Press All-American selection, came within one rebound of his third straight double-double to start the season, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds. Freshman D.J. Harvey came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points in the game that never was in doubt after Notre Dame started off 7-0 and raced to a 56-29 halftime lead.
Gibbs survived an elbow that left a welt over his right eye with 11:59 remaining in the second half to surpass his previous best of 21 points in Notre Dame’s season-opening victory at DePaul. He finished 8 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 7 beyond the 3-point arc, and added three assists before taking a seat on the bench with 5:47 remaining.
“This was a great focus win for us,” Gibbs said. “They (Chicago State) gave us a lot of looks we haven’t seen this year.”
Notre Dame shot 62.1 percent while holding Chicago State (1-3) to 36.1 percent. The Irish had a 41-24 edge on the boards, scored 24 points off 15 Chicago State turnovers and outscored the Cougars 46-26 in the paint.
Fred Sims Jr. led Chicago State with 19 points and Jelani Pruitt had 16.
Chicago State: The Cougars, who started four guards against the Irish, fell behind 7-0 and trailed by as many as 30 points in the first half. Thursday’s 39-point loss was Chicago State’s fourth of 33 or more points. The Cougars have 10 more games against schools that played in postseason tournaments (NCAA, NIT, CBI, CIT) last season.
Notre Dame: The Irish continue to see other players step up to share the offensive load with Colson and Farrell. The outputs by Gibbs and Harvey, who was 5 of 8 from the field, were appreciated by Brey.
“D.J. is a gifted guy,” Brey said. “It was a great night for him – he got 22 minutes and got into a scoring rhythm. Our seniors know he’s important to us.”
Brey, who is in his 18th season at Notre Dame, needs just nine more wins to surpass the school record of 393 by Digger Phelps, who coached 20 seasons at Notre Dame beginning in 1971. Under Phelps, the Irish ended UCLA’s 88-game winning streak in 1974 and also made their only trip to the Final Four in 1978.
Chicago State: The Cougars stay on the road Saturday at Northern Iowa.
Notre Dame: The Irish leave campus Friday morning at 6 for Chicago and two flights (a layover in San Francisco) and 18 hours of travel to Hawaii for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Lahaina. They play tournament host Chaminade in Monday’s opening round and either Michigan or LSU on Tuesday.