Men’s Basketball: Leis and layups
Chris Hine | Tuesday, November 25, 2008
MAUI – His fellow players and coaches often refer to him as Notre Dame’s heartbeat, and how he performs dictates how the rest of the Irish usually play.
So on Monday, when junior point guard Tory Jackson scored 21 points, grabbed five rebounds and had six assists, it was no surprise that Notre Dame defeated Indiana 88-50 in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
Jackson, who led all scorers, was one of five Notre Dame players in double figures. And in a rare occurrence for Jackson, he took the most shots of anybody on the floor – Jackson shot 10-for-17 from the field goal range.
“I just took those shots because they came in the flow of the offense,” Jackson said. “A lot of teams focus on Kyle, a lot of teams focus on Luke Harangody, so most of the time when they’re double-guarded, I just got to the open spot and I happened to be open and they fell in. I will not be taking 17 shots [every night]. It just happened. I was feeling it today.”
The Hoosiers kept it close in the opening minutes, but Jackson helped spark a 17-6 Notre Dame run midway through the first half that put Notre Dame ahead for good. Jackson hit two jumpers and assisted on a Zach Hillesland layup that put Notre Dame ahead 20-11 with 8:50 to play in the half.
Then some of Jackson’s teammates began to catch fire.
Senior guard Kyle McAlarney, who finished with 18 points, hit one of his six 3-pointers. Then junior forward Luke Harangody grabbed one of his five steals, passed to McAlarney, then raced down the floor. McAlarney lobbed it from about mid court to the streaking Harangody, who caught it and executed a difficult layup to put the Irish up 25-13.
Following another McAlarney 3 and a Ryan Ayers jumper, senior forward Luke Zeller, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, drained a 3 of his own and the Irish had a 33-16 lead with 5:16 left in the half.
“I thought we played old today,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We knew who we were, we were pretty mature. We took what the defense gave us and we got back and protected the paint and made them take tough, challenged shots.”
Even with Harangody out the last four-plus minutes of the first half with two fouls, Notre Dame increased its lead to 44-23 at halftime. Harangody finished with 14 points and five rebounds.
Notre Dame came out in the second half and steadily put away Indiana. Ayers opened the half with a 3-pointer, Jackson pitched in two layups on drives to the basket and McAlarney downed another 3 to put Notre Dame up 56-29 by the first media timeout at 15:43 left in the game.
Points came easy for the Irish against the Hoosiers, easier than they did in Notre Dame’s 65-54 win at Loyola Marymount Friday.
“Friday’s game in a little gym and crazy atmosphere helped us today,” Brey said. “We played in a small gym at Loyola. They played great and we had to fight to get out of there with a win. I think that really helped us.”
During one fast break against the Hoosiers, Jackson dribbled down the floor and kept looking at McAlarney and Harangody, who were positioned at his sides. Indiana defenders were so concerned with Harangody and McAlarney that they forgot to pick up Jackson, who coasted in for a layup unguarded.
“They laid off me,” Jackson said. “Some of the shots, I feel like I rushed them and some of the shots, I felt like they were quality shots. Overall, I felt like I had a good game, but I had five turnovers today and that was awful for me.”
Notre Dame will take on Texas Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN. The Longhorns downed St. Joseph’s 68-50 on Monday.
“They’re really talented. That’s Big East athletic ability coming at us,” Brey said of Texas. “We see that a lot in our league, so you’re concerned about you rebound the basketball and getting through some big stagger screens. Some of those guys could play for Mack Brown setting those screens. But, they’re a really good team. I think it’s two good teams going at it.”
uTuesday night, EA Sports and Xbox360 hosted a tournament to see who the best NCAA Basketball ’09 player was among the eight participating teams. Each team had two representatives to the tournament. For the Irish, Jackson and Harangody participated. Harangody lost in his first-round matchup to Indiana’s Devan Dumes.
Jackson fared a little better. He won a tight first-round contest against Indiana’s Daniel Moore 20-19 and downed St. Joseph’s Edwin Lashley in the second round. But in the semifinals, Jackson lost to North Carolina’s Ty Lawson 26-22. Lawson would go on to lose to fellow teammate Mike Copeland in the finals.