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ND Basketball: Brey’s players face Golden Eagles again

Joe Meixell | Thursday, March 13, 2008

NEW YORK – No. 14 Notre Dame has been in New York since Monday, but it finally found out Wednesday who its Big East Tournament quarterfinal opponent will be.

No. 6 seed Marquette defeated No. 11 seed Hall 67-54 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden to advance to play the No. 3-seeded Irish. Notre Dame earned a bye to the quarterfinals, tonight at 9 p.m.

Notre Dame split with Marquette during the regular season, falling 92-66 in Milwaukee Jan. 12 and winning 86-83 at the Joyce Center Feb. 9.

“With Marquette we’ve played them twice,” Irish coach Mike Brey said Sunday. “You have some good stuff, you have some horrible stuff to show, but you’re not showing a lot of stuff now.”

Earlier this week, Brey downplayed the fact that his team wouldn’t know its opponent until 24 hours before tip off.

“At this point in the year, I don’t know how much scouting really does [matter],” he said. “I think the focus is on your group and how you play and you have prepared quickly so many times at a walk through and shoot-around on Thursday, you can get mentally ready to go.”

Instead, Brey, who was awarded Big East coach of the year Tuesday, said the extra rest will help his team after playing three games in seven days last week.

“[Last week] was a grueling week because we had to play three games, but not playing until Thursday allows us to get our rest,” Brey said.

The Irish have won six of their last seven games dating back to February 17, with only a 90-85 loss to Louisville at Freedom Hall Feb. 28 blemishing that mark.

“I think we have great energy and great momentum,” Brey said. “This group is really excited. We’re going in with a lot of juice.”

For the second time this season, Irish junior guard Kyle McAlarney will play in front of friends and family at Madison Square Garden. McAlarney, who grew up in Staten Island, scored 18 points in Notre Dame’s last game in New York, a 68-59 win over Kansas Sate Dec. 4.

In that game, McAlarney hit a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining to give the Irish a five-point lead they would not relinquish.

Notre Dame sophomore forward Luke Harangody will play his first game as reigning Big East Player of the Year Thursday. Harangody is the conference’s leading scorer and rebounder with 23.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game in conference play.

In the loss to Marquette Jan. 12, Harangody scored 29 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. In Notre Dame’s win over the Golden Eagles a month later, he recorded another double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

In other Big East tournament action Wednesday, Villanova likely put an end to Syracuse’s NCAA tournament hopes with an 82-63 drubbing. The No.8-seeded Wildcats advance to play No. 1 seed Georgetown today.

No. 5 seed West Virginia survived a scare from No. 12 seed Providence, pulling away in the final minute to win 58-53. The Mountaineers will take on No. 4 seed Connecticut today.

No. 7 seed Pittsburgh beat No. 10 seed Cincinatti 70-64 despite 30 points from Bearcats guard Deonta Vaughn. The Panthers move on to face Louisville today.

The winner of the game between the Cardinals and Panthers will take on the winner of the Notre Dame-Marquette game Friday at 9 p.m.

Chris Hine also contributed to this report.