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Men’s Basketball: Abromaitis nets 31 in win

Michael Bryan | Sunday, December 6, 2009

The first half of Notre Dame’s game against Central Florida Sunday featured 17 lead changes and 11 ties scores. The second half had none, as the Irish stormed out after halftime to outscore the Knights 49-31 and secure a 90-72 victory.

With NBA legend Michael Jordan in the press box to watch his son Marcus, a freshman guard at UCF, junior forward Tim Abromaitis had the best game of his career. Moved into the starting lineup, Abromaitis scored 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting to lead the Irish effort.

“I think it’s really my teammates who set me up for those 31 points,” Abromaitis said. “I got a lot of easy shots out there, just off good penetration and getting good cuts. It’s a lot of the teamwork that went into it.”

Senior Luke Harangody had another typical performance, as the preseason All-American scored 29 points and brought down seven rebounds. After a slow start shooting the ball early, Harangody made eight of his 10 attempts from the field and helped Notre Dame dominate the second half.

“We’ve done that this season, and every time we’ve been at home we’ve had a second half surge,” Harangody said. “I don’t know what it is but we just come out there and pick up the defensive intensity. This is a great team tonight, and this is big for us.”

Notre Dame got off to a quick start behind Abromaitis, with the junior making an early 3-pointer and then converting the free throw after being fouled to put the Irish up 11-4. The Knights then responded with a 9-0 run to take the lead, and the first half was back-and-forth the rest of the way.

“They were hard to guard in the first half, making some tough shots on us,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I thought our poise to start the second half was really good.”

After the score was even at 41-41 at halftime, Notre Dame went on an 8-0 run to start the second period. After the Knights settled down a bit, the Irish stretched the lead to 70-55 with just nine minutes remaining.

The scariest part of the second half for Notre Dame occurred with 13:28 remaining, when senior point guard Tory Jackson went down with an ankle injury after going up for a shot.

“I didn’t even see the guy under me when I went up for the shot, and I just came down on his foot,” Jackson said.

While Jackson left the game and did not return, the early evaluation of the injury was that it was just a light sprain.

“I think I’ll be fine,” Jackson said. “I was scared when it happened though. Especially senior year, you don’t want that to happen to anybody. I’m very, very thankful that it’s not a big deal.”

Brey was relieved to hear his floor general would not be missing significant amounts of time.

“We’d have to say he’s questionable for Wednesday [against IUPUI],” Brey said. “If we are betting men on Tory Jackson, that guy is going to take a couple Motrin and be out there.”

Junior guard Ben Hansbrough also scored in double digits for the Irish, tallying 10 points and four assists. Jackson had nine assists and four points before leaving following the ankle injury.

Central Florida was led by forward Keith Clanton, who scored 14 points off the bench. The Knights reserve players outscored the Irish bench 34-8.

The Irish will next play IUPUI at Purcell Pavilion Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.