Notre Dame was in desperate need of a lift in the first half of its 89-79 overtime victory over Louisville on Wednesday.
The No. 8 Irish (20-4, 9-3 Big East) were rushing on offense and were struggling to keep up with the No. 16 Cardinals' four-guard lineup that wasn't missing shots in the opening 20 minutes.
Louisville (18-6, 7-4) seemed poised to pull away from Notre Dame at any moment in the first half, but Irish reserve forward Jack Cooley didn't allow that to happen.
Cooley scored 10 of Notre Dame's last 16 points in the first half, helping keep the Irish within 44-40 of the Cardinals at the break.
"It was just a little rough patch for our and nothing was really flowing," Cooley said. "I knew something needed to happen. I just tried to help pick it up. Once I got a couple of putbacks, they started making some offensive moves."
Cooley didn't score again after that burst in the final 6:26 of the opening half, but his contribution wasn't over looked by coach Mike Brey.
"Awesome, kept us a live," Brey said of Cooley's play. "You feel that in a game like that you don't deserve to be down four. You deserve to be down 12. You're counting your blessings.
"Jack and Eric (Atkins) gave us a lift off the bench tonight. Jack was scoring for us when we couldn't score."
Irish get going in 2nd half and OT
Notre Dame didn't have the same offensive woes to start the second half that it did in the first half when it shot 41.2 percent from the field.
The Irish bounced on the Cardinals coming out of the break going on a 7-0 run in the first three minutes of the second half to take a 47-44 lead with 16:44 to paly. But Louisville responded with an 11-3 run to go up 53-50 with 14:28 to play.
The Cardinals run was answered with a 9-0 Irish run for a 59-55 Notre Dame lead midway through the half, and after Louisville tied the game at 60 with 8:54 to play neither team led by more than four the rest of the way.
Notre Dame needed its offense coming out of the break, but it was their defense that allowed them to get into overtime.
The Irish forced a desperation three-pointer as the shot clock was running out by the Cardinals' Preston Knowles with 25.6 to play. But Notre Dame gave the ball back to Louisville when the rebound went off guard Ben Hansbrough's fingers and out of bounds.
Notre Dame than pulled a switch from man-to-man defense to a zone defense with 10 seconds to play and Knowles launched another three-pointer with 2 seconds left that bounced off the rim.
Notre Dame responded to going into overtime tied at 74 by scoring 14 straight points for an 88-74 lead with 1:06 to play.
"I think we were thinking, 'We're probably lucky to be here, so now let's win it,'" Brey said of the team's mentality in overtime.
Cards guard wonders about T
The first half ended with an odd three-point play by Louisville guard Kyle Kuric.
Kuric had dunked over Notre Dame's Scott Martin, drawing an and-1 foul shot but also a technical foul.
Apparently, the ref though Kuric was taunting Martin when he looked down at the Irish forward.
"I was surprised to get that call, but it happens," said Kuric, who finished with 28 points. "… I didn't want to get another technical, so I didn't argue my case for myself. I've only ever had two technicals before, back in grade school."
Tim Abromaitis hit a pair of free throws off the technical, and then Kuric finished his three-point play.
"He said Kyle looked at (Martin), so that was considered taunting," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of the technical. "First of all, he's a mime. At first the ref said Kyle said something, but (Kyle) hasn't said anything in three years. He's a complete mime. He's the nicest young man on the team."