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Men’s Basketball: Ending it early

Bill Brink | Thursday, December 10, 2009

IUPUI coach Ron Hunter knew he was in trouble quickly Wednesday night.

“When you see the ball going in early it makes a difference,” he said. “The ball was going in early for them.”

Especially for senior guard Ben Hansbrough, who scored 22 points during Notre Dame’s 93-70 win over IUPUI at the Purcell Pavilion Wednesday.

Hansbrough made 6-of-8 field goals and 3-of-5 3-pointers to go with his five assists. He also made 7-of-9 free throws, although the Irish (9-1) made only 65.2 percent of their foul shot attempts.

“I like the fact that [Hansbrough] took jump shots he had,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “When he’s got an open look, he’s got to take it because he’s a good shooter.”

Hunter cited Hansbrough’s effect on how the defense guards the rest of the Irish as important.

“He will make [senior forward Luke] Harangody’s shot a lot easier because you can’t double on him,” he said.

IUPUI fell to 8-3 with the loss.

Junior forward Tim Abromaitis scored 18 points in his second straight start. In his first start, a 90-72 win at home over Central Florida Sunday, he scored 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting and made eight of his nine free throw attempts.

Abromaitis started over guard Jonathan Peoples, who came in off the bench.

“I’ve been comfortable … all year out there, I think,” Abromaitis said. “It’s just confidence from coaches and other players on the team just translating to me being a little bit more loose out there and ready to go.”

Hansbrough called Abromaitis the best backdoor cutter he’d ever seen. Brey said he liked the production from Abromaitis but still rode him about some of the finer points.

“I thought he was a little tentative with the ball against their zone,” he said, but noted that he was “thrilled” with Abromaitis.

Harangody scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds. His reduced scoring was partly a function of the Jaguars’ match-up zone defense, but Harangody handled it well, Brey said.
“We couldn’t get [Harangody] as many touches in the zone,” Brey said. “He didn’t panic because he wasn’t getting touches.”

Harangody was fine with being the third-leading scorer, an unusual role for him.
“It’s a great thing to have these weapons around us,” he said. “That never happened a lot last year. It takes a lot of pressure off myself.”

The Irish moved the ball well and looked comfortable playing with one another. They had 22 assists as a team, a season high, and out-rebounded the Jaguars 41-32.

“We’re a great passing team,” junior forward Tyrone Nash said. “From the one to the five we can all pass.”

The starters, plus Peoples and junior forward Carleton Scott, have begun to mesh into a group used to playing together, Brey said.

“I thought this was another night starting with the Saint Louis game … where the seven guys all complemented each other and knew who they were,” he said. “You want to keep building the seven-man group.”

The Irish jumped ahead 11-2 and led by seven for most of the first half. Abromaitis’ dunk and 3-pointer gave the Irish a 33-17 lead with 7:15 left in the half.

Near the end of the half, Hansbrough sank two free throws and a transition layup off of a long pass from Harangody to make the score 44-21.

IUPUI struggled to make shots in the first half. The Jaguars, who shot 51.1 percent from field goal range prior to Wednesday’s game, made only 25.9 percent of their shots in the first half.

The Irish made 53 percent of their first-half shots. Hansbrough had 15 first-half points and made 3-of-4 3-point attempts.

Notre Dame led by 27 in the second half, but eight straight points from Glenn and a 3-pointer from Young cut the lead to 16.

When asked if he was worried about giving up 48 second-half points, Brey said, “Not really. Not if we can score 50.”

“I told the team we got 20 minutes to get better,” he said of his halftime speech. “Ignore the score.”

Abromaitis’ 3-pointer and senior guard Tory Jackson’s layup edged the lead back to 21, and Scott tipped in a missed free throw to give Notre Dame a 64-40 lead with 13:04 remaining.

Notre Dame plays Loyola-Marymount Saturday, and then has a week off before UCLA visits South Bend on Dec. 19.

– Harangody’s 16 points moved him into fifth place on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 2,070 points. He passed Troy Murphy, who had 2,058, and has Pat Garrity (2,085) in his sights.