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ND Men’s Basketball: Smells like victory

Mike Gotimer | Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No. 25 Notre Dame will try to continue its winning ways against Indiana State at home Tuesday after a first-place finish in the Old Spice Classic this past week.

It was unclear just how far the Irish (7-0) could go in the tournament after an 89-83 double overtime victory over Georgia (4-2) on Thanksgiving in which Notre Dame trailed by as many 13 points in the second half. The Irish rallied, however, relying on strong defensive efforts against California (3-2) and Wisconsin (4-2) to clinch the program’s third preseason tournament title.

The Irish put up a record-setting performance in their 57-44 victory over California in the semifinals, holding the Golden Bears to just five points in the first half.

Senior forward Carleton Scott led Notre Dame in that game with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He was the only Irish player to score in double figures in each game of the tournament, which earned him a spot on the all-tournament team along with fourth-year forward Tim Abromaitis.

Notre Dame continued its dominant defensive performance in the finals as Wisconsin scored just 19 points in the first half in the Irish’s 58-51 win. The Badgers rallied to take an 11-point lead over the Irish in the second half, but Notre Dame used a 15-0 run in the final four minutes to pull away. Scott and freshman guard Eric Atkins led Notre Dame with 12 points apiece, and Abromaitis’ 10-point, nine-rebound effort helped him earn the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

In the final two games of the tournament, Notre Dame held California and Wisconsin to a combined 30.5 percent from the field.

“I think we showed a lot of people out there that we still have some fight in us,” Abromaitis told the press after the game.

Irish coach Mike Brey was pleased with his team’s performance in the Old Spice Classic and thinks that the wins can help them come tournament time.

“I learned something about my team that I knew I would down here,” Brey told the press after the game. “You hope to learn while you’re winning, certainly that’s helpful. But for us right now, this team is very confident.”

Tonight’s match-up marks the second time that the Irish and Sycamores (3-3) will face off, but a lot has changed for both programs since Notre Dame’s 66-49 win over Indiana State in the 1947-48, most notably that legendary UCLA coach John Wooden coached the Sycamores at the time. Indiana State is in its first season under coach Greg Lansing. Senior guard Jake Kelly leads Indiana State with 11.7 points per game and is one of three Sycamores scoring in double figures this year. Junior guard Carl Richard has hauled in 9.7 rebounds per game in six contests this year to lead the Sycamores.

Notre Dame and Indiana State face off at 7:30 p.m. at the Purcell Pavilion.