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Men’s Basketball: Irish open year with blowout

Chris Khorey | Monday, November 5, 2007

Two Notre Dame forwards finished with double-doubles, and the Irish won their first exhibition game of the season, 109-53 over St. Ambrose Friday at the Joyce Center.

Senior Rob Kurz had 23 points and 11 rebounds, while junior Zach Hillesland added 12 points and 14 rebounds as Notre Dame jumped to an early lead and never looked back.

“We were running,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We wanted to keep running and attacking.”

Notre Dame didn’t allow St. Ambrose to break into double figures until the final four minutes of the first half and led 51-17 at halftime. The Fighting Bees shot just 6-for-34 from the field before the break.

“I think we did a great job of playing hard defensively, especially in the first half,” Kurz said.

In his return from suspension, Irish guard Kyle McAlarney started slow – missing his first four shots. But the guard found his stroke late in the first half with two buckets in less than a minute.

“I just wasn’t hitting for a while, but I just have to stay confident,” McAlarney said.

McAlarney finished the game with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting, along with five assists and two rebounds.

“It’s good to be back out there with the guys,” McAlarney said. “I felt very comfortable. I’m just happy to be back.”

In addition to Kurz, Hillesland and McAlarney, three other Irish players scored in double figures – guard Tory Jackson with 12, guard Jonathan Peoples with 11 and forward Luke Zeller with 11 points.

“We have so many guys who can do so many things and on any given night it’s going to be another guy’s turn to be the leading scorer,” Kurz said.

With eight minutes left in the first half, Irish freshman guard Tyrone Nash entered the lineup for the first time. He didn’t take long to get his first basket, putting back a missed shot on his first possession.

Three more freshmen, guard Ty Proffitt and forwards Tim Abromaitis and Carleton Scott, also scored their first points in Irish uniforms, both in the last minute of the first half. Proffitt hit a runner at the elbow and Abromaitis nailed a three pointer in the first half, while Scott made a jumper from the baseline late in the game.

“I think it was great to see the young guys get some opportunities,” Kurz said. “They played really well.”

Notre Dame will play its second and final exhibition game Wednesday against St. Edward’s. Brey said the exhibition games provide valuable experience before the Irish open the regular season Nov. 12 against Long Island University.

“We need to play and evaluate ourselves sitting on the same bench,” he said. “We need to figure out our rotation.”

Note:

u Kurz was named Notre Dame’s captain before the game.