SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — When asked Saturday how good Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant is, Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy’s answer was immediate and succinct.
“He’s a pro,” Dildy said.
That response should come as no surprise given Grant’s pedigree. The son of former NBA player Harvey Grant, and nephew of longtime pro Horace Grant, Jerian leads the ACC in scoring and assists per game, and only added to those numbers Saturday.
Grant matched a career high with 26 points, including a career-best six 3-point field goals, to pace Notre Dame’s 90-42 rout of Chicago State at Purcell Pavilion.
“He is a scary talent, man,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who echoed Dildy’s thoughts moments later. “I feel like I’m coaching a pro, because he is a pro.”
Pat Connaughton added 17 points, and Demetrius Jackson and V.J. Beachem each had 11 for the Irish (6-1), who dished out 22 assists on their 31 field goals.
Grant finished 6 of 8 from the 3-point arc and also had five assists.
“We’re just confident from 3 right now,” Grant said. “I don’t think I’ve been on a team that runs like this one. When you run, you get easy baskets and easy looks.”
Connaughton and Steve Vasturia each finished with four helpers for the unselfish Irish.
“I love the way we pass the ball,” Brey said. “I hope our fans understand what they’re seeing because it’s a team that really knows how to play on that end of the floor.”
Trayvon Palmer’s nine points led Chicago State (2-6), which lost its fourth game in a row. The Irish locked down on Cougars’ leading scorer Clarke Rosenberg, who came in averaging 17.3 points per game, but managed just three points on 1 of 6 shooting to go with two turnovers.
After knocking down 12 3-pointers in a win over Grambling State on Wednesday, the Irish shot 14 of 25 from the 3-point arc against Chicago State.
“There’s no team in the country that shoots the ball better than that team,” Dildy said.
Notre Dame opened the second half with a 12-0 run to extend an already-large lead to 32 points. Grant knocked down a pair of 3s in the spurt.
He scored Notre Dame’s final six points of the first half, part of a 12-2 run to open up a 44-22 lead at the break. Grant had eight of his 14 first half points in the run, and the Irish forced turnovers on the final three Chicago State possessions before halftime.
Notre Dame: After Saturday’s 58.5 percent shooting performance, Notre Dame has hit better than 50 percent from the field in all seven games this season.
Chicago State: The Cougars fell to 0-3 all-time against Notre Dame, losing by an average of 38 points.
Brey was most pleased with his team’s high number of assists, reinforcing the style he likes his teams to play.
“It’s part of our culture here,” Brey said. “We make the extra pass here, and if you’re open, we’ll find you.”
As he normally does with an opponent’s top scorer, Vasturia drew the job of guarding Rosenberg most of the game, helping to hold the Chicago State senior 14 points under his average.
“He’s our best contester,” Brey said of Vasturia. “With a guy that needs the ball, like Rosenberg, (Vasturia) over-plays that guy, so when he catches it, he doesn’t catch it in a comfort zone.”
Notre Dame hosts Michigan State on Wednesday.
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