NOTRE DAME — Notre Dame gave No. 8 Kentucky nine minutes to pull away.
The Irish upset the Wildcats (4-2) 64-50 Thursday in a “blackout” game at the Purcell Pavilion, featuring black uniforms on the court and black t-shirts in the crowd.
The Irish (7-1) were only hitting 35 percent of their shots, while Kentucky was hitting 50 percent and scoring from the free throw line.
Then Notre Dame guard Eric Atkins sank a 3-pointer, giving the Irish a 15-14 lead. Notre Dame didn’t trail the rest of the game.
While the rest of his teammates struggled to score early, Atkins almost single-handily kept the Irish afloat, scoring 11 of Notre Dame’s first 15 points.
The crowd — led by several members of the Notre Dame football team — was electric from Atkins’ 3-pointer on, rattling the young Kentucky squad.
Notre Dame led 36-25 at the half before embarking on a 10-0 scoring run midway through the second half, leading by as many as 20 points.
Atkins led the Irish with 16 points (7-of-11 from the field), while Jerian Grant and Jack Cooley pitched in 13 points apiece. Freshman Cameron Biedscheid finished 4-of-6 for 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
Julius Mays led Kentucky with 16 points.