Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant had 23 points and nine assists as the Irish held off Troy Williams and the Hoosiers. | Michael Conroy/AP
Updated: January 16, 2014 7:07AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Notre Dame looked at its game Saturday against Indiana as a clean slate and an opportunity to rejuvenate itself after a dismal performance Wednesday in a home loss to North Dakota State.
The mental reset worked.
Jerian Grant had 23 points and nine assists while Garrick Sherman had 16 points, six rebounds and four blocks as the Irish knocked off the Hoosiers 79-72 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“That was a heck of a lot more fun than Wednesday night,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
The differences start offensively, particularly with Notre Dame’s shooting in the first half. The Irish shot 51.5 percent and went to halftime leading 47-42.
Notre Dame (8-3) shot 46.3 percent for the game. The Irish shot just 35.7 percent in the 73-69 loss to the Bison.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Brey said. “They were reeling a little bit after Wednesday, but we do have an experienced nucleus that has played together and won together before in these atmospheres.
“We got off to a good start. We answered any one of their charges. Guys made key plays, clutch plays. For us, something to build on.”
Sherman played a large role in that good start. He scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half.
“It was a sense of urgency,” Sherman said of the quick start. “We’re not stupid. We knew we had to have this one.”
The second half belonged to Pat Connaughton. He scored all 14 of his points in the final 20 minutes.
“I’m not a kid that wants to necessarily force it. The first half, these guys were rolling,” said Connaughton, who finished with nine rebounds.
“I was going to try to have a positive effect on the game in other ways. The second half, I had open shots, and I was able to knock them down.”
Indiana (8-3) kept the game close in large part because of Will Sheehey, who led the team with 22 points.
Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and Evan Gordon had 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Ferrell made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 71-69 with 2:47 to go. But the Hoosiers never led in the game.
“We made a bunch of runs, but we could never get all the way over the hump,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
Eric Atkins provided some breathing room with a layup with 1:21 to go, and the Irish made four of six free throws in the final 35 seconds to claim some state bragging rights.
“In this state, to beat these guys here is powerful for our program,” Brey said.