SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Jerian Grant stepped in front of a pass from Michigan State’s Travis Trice for a steal in the second half of Wednesday’s ACC/Big Ten showdown. The Notre Dame guard raced to the other end of the court and made a layup while getting fouled by Denzel Valentine.
This is what the Irish missed the second half of last season.
Grant helped Notre Dame get to overtime and Demetrius Jackson made big plays in the extra session to lead the Irish to a 79-78 victory against the No. 19 Spartans.
“We were already playing with confidence the last two games,” Grant said. “To get a big win like that boosts it even more.”
Grant finished with 27 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals.
“He’s an amazing guy. A clutch guy,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “He takes some bad ones but you’ve got to ride with them because he makes some plays. You can’t fault him because, man, he wants the ball when his team wants to win.
“… Fearless guy. Good that he eligibility and we got him back.”
Grant missed the second half last season because of a suspension tied to academics. He’s been a force early this season, leading the ACC in scoring and assists.
It continued Wednesday.
“He’s as complete a guard as we’ve played against so far,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Grant and Valentine kept trading baskets to force overtime. Grant gave the Irish (7-1) a 67-64 lead with a three-pointer with 1:24 remaining. Valentine tied the game with a three-pointer of his own with 48 seconds to go. Valentine finished with 22 points. Branden Dawson added 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Spartans (5-3).
Jackson took charge in the overtime, scoring six of his 22 points.
“My teammates and coaches kept telling me to attack,” Jackson said.
Austin Torres, who provided a spark off the bench, scored on a tip-in to give the Irish a 71-69 lead with 3:47 remaining. Jackson followed with a conventional three-point play.
Jackson made one of two free throws with 5.4 seconds to go to ice the team’s biggest win of the season.
“What a great college game. I’m really proud of our group,” Brey said.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever wanted a win for a team more than I wanted this one for this group as I saw it on our schedule because of how this group is invested, how they believe, how they’ve been great students, how they’ve been coachable. I’m so pleased that we could get this (Wednesday). We were really mentally and physically tough to do it.”