INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana forward Juwan Morgan spent all week preparing for a showdown with Notre Dame star Bonzie Colson.
Turns out, all Morgan needed was one frantic flurry to take down the preseason All-American.
Morgan scored the final eight points in regulation and eight more in overtime, including a go-ahead dunk with 8.6 seconds left, and Indiana rallied past No. 18 Notre Dame 80-77 on Saturday.
“From the time I knew we were going to play Notre Dame, I knew he was going to come in here and put up a great fight,” Morgan said. “Then all the coaches were telling me this week, ‘It’s like going to be your job. You’ve got to take the challenge and do something with it.'”
Morgan responded with the best game of his career. The junior went 13 of 17 from the field, grabbed 11 rebounds and scored a career-high 34 points by making one play after another over the frantic final 8 1/2 minutes.
Notre Dame (8-3) never found an answer. Colson nearly forced a second overtime on a half-court heave, but it rimmed out.
“I think what he (Morgan) is figuring out is the more he gets down there and gets to the foul line and he’s offensive rebounding, the better he plays,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “Even today, I wish he would have taken one 3-pointer.”
Morgan’s performance lifted Miller to the biggest win of his first season with the Hoosiers (6-5) in his first appearance at the Crossroads Classic, an annual doubleheader between Indiana’s four highest profile teams.
Colson led the Fighting Irish with a season-high 29 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds. But when the game got tight, Morgan threw all the scoring punches.
He had every point in an 8-0 run that tied it at 65 with 13 seconds left in regulation. Austin Torres had a chance to win the game for Notre Dame with 0.8 seconds to go, but he missed two foul shots.
Morgan’s scoring spree continued in overtime. When he made a short floater and drew a foul with 11 seconds left, it looked as if double overtime was coming.
Instead, Morgan missed the free throw, Zach McRoberts grabbed the rebound and fed Morgan for the dunk and a 78-77 lead with 8.6 seconds left.
Robert Johnson blocked Matt Farrell’s 3 from the corner, and Notre Dame was forced to foul.
“We were — you know we were holding them off for most of the game,” Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey said. “But, God, you’ve got to get a couple more defensive rebounds and good blockouts to get out of there.”
Notre Dame: As long as Colson remains productive, the Irish will be tough to beat. But Colson’s supporting cast needs to play better and must become more consistent.
Indiana: Morgan is quickly emerging as the team’s leader. With his grit and hustle, he is making plays every game. Sure, Miller would like to see more from Morgan’s teammates, but for now he’ll be content to ride the hot hand.
The Hoosiers trailed 31-25 at halftime, and it was almost a little closer. Johnson connected from 55 feet away, but he didn’t get it off in time. And it wasn’t even close enough for a replay review. The crowd went wild anyway.
Johnson had 20 points and six rebounds.
Notre Dame: T.J. Gibbs had 17 points, and Farrell finished with 15. … The Irish were 19 of 26 at the free-throw line and were outrebounded 41-32. … After committing two turnovers in the first half, Notre Dame finished with nine.
Indiana: McRoberts snagged seven offensive rebounds and nine overall. … Johnson’s 3 with 8:43 left in the first half ended a streak of 21 consecutive missed 3s, a stretch that began last weekend at Louisville. … Indiana is 1-2 against ACC foes, with losses to Duke at home and at Louisville.
Notre Dame: Plays its first home game in 14 days when Dartmouth visits Tuesday.
Indiana: Hosts Fort Wayne on Monday night, trying to avenge last season’s upset.