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One last challenge for Jones

Matt Lozar | Thursday, March 25, 2004

It’s appropriate in his last game at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame guard and defensive specialist Torrian Jones will be called on for his biggest assignment of the season – somehow trying to contain Oregon’s Luke Jackson.

“I don’t think there is a better way for me to go out at home but to go up against a guy like Luke Jackson, really testing myself on the court against a player of his caliber,” Jones said. “To me, this is an honor to play against a great player. I love doing it, and it’s been my role since I’ve been here.”

Jackson doesn’t get the major publicity nationwide being on the west coast, but his numbers are impressive. The second-team All-American averages 21.6 points in just less than 35 minutes per game. He also pulls down 7.2 rebounds, dishes out 4.6 assists and shoots 43.8 percent on 3-pointers.

The Irish have seen some great offensive players this year, but they consider Jackson to be the best.

“We know he is a great player, and he is probably the best player we have played against all season,” Notre Dame guard Chris Thomas said. “He may not be the most talented player, but as a complete player, he is the best.”

Thomas has a personal connection to Jackson, as the two have attended summer camps together and even coached 8-year olds at one of these camps.

Despite the friendship, Thomas doesn’t have any secrets to stopping Jackson – just good defense.

“If you pressure him, he will look over the top of you and make the passes. I think the key is to get a hand up on his shot,” Thomas said. “He’s a great scorer, a great player. He can rebound. He can pass. It’s going to be a team type awareness on him that we are going to have to do.”

Being 6-foot-7, Jackson may draw some defensive matchups with Notre Dame forward Jordan Cornette.

But Jones knows, on what will certainly be an emotional night for him, his teammates are looking to him to contain one of the best players in the country. Not surprisingly, Jones is ready.

“That’s something I always look forward to every game – a challenge defensively. This is my biggest challenge of the year. He’s a great player. I’m really looking forward to it,” Jones said. “Knowing this is the last time I will be playing on this floor as a Notre Dame player, I think emotions will be running, but I will really be ready to do the things I’ve done since I’ve been here to help my team win.”