INDIANAPOLIS -- Life is copacetic these days for the Notre Dame men's basketball team, which moved to 9-1 Saturday with what head coach Mike Brey termed, approvingly, a businesslike 81-68 victory in the Crossroads Classic.
The Irish rolled out to a 39-31 halftime lead, then smothered the Boilermakers out of the gate in the second half, outscoring them 17-2 across the first 9:24 and holding them scoreless for more than five minutes.
"They're playing like men," Brey said. "Thrilled with our defense, especially the second half to hold them scoreless for awhile. I thought our offensive efficiency was excellent again.
Jack Cooley scored 18 points and took nine rebounds to lead the Irish, who also got 17 points and seven assists from Eric Atkins, 16 points and solid defense on D.J. Byrd from Pat Connaughton, and 11 points from Garrick Sherman. The Irish outrebounded Purdue 38-33 and forced nine turnovers in the first half while limited the Boilers to 41 percent shooting (25-of-61).
All signs that it's all good in South Bend these days.
"We have a great frame of mind," Brey said. "These guys, they love playing together. And they do play beautifully together. How they move the ball and cut and share it ... I love that we've had a defensive identity since the beginning of the season, and now our offensive identity is starting to kick in.
"But we can still get better. I told this group, unlike our teams a few years ago with all those seniors, with (Ben) Hansborough, we were kind of a finished product from the third day of practice. This group can still get better. Sherman is still getting comfortable, (Cameron) Biedscheid is still getting comfortable. That's what I want us to really concentrate on here."