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Men’s Basketball: McAlarney puts on a show in Irish loss

Fran Tolan | Thursday, November 27, 2008

MAUI — North Carolina took down Notre Dame in the final of the Maui Invitational Wednesday night but not before Kyle McAlarney put on a show for the crowd at the Lahaina Civic Center.

McAlarney scored 39 points and broke his own school record with 10 three-pointers, including eight in the second half.

“I’m just taking what the defense gives me,” the Irish co-captain said. “I was lucky the past three days, I got a few open looks and got a little hot.”

Notre Dame fell behind by as many as 23 points in the second half, but McAlarney almost single-handedly cut the deficit to 11 with 5:15 left. He nailed four 3-pointers and scored 14 points during a 22-10 Irish run to make the score 84-73.

“McAlarney — that’s as good an exhibition of shooting the basketball as I’ve ever seen,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

And McAlarney might have pared North Carolina’s lead to eight had it not been for a foul by Tar Heels forward Deon Thompson. Irish point guard Tory Jackson came up with a loose ball and fed McAlarney behind the arc on the left wing. But as McAlarney was about to release the ball, the whistle sounded for a foul. The senior drained the trey but it did not count.

“We’ve come back from [down] 17, 15, 20, so quickly. [When we fell behind by 23] I said I just want you to make them call a timeout and then we’ll talk about it,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I think when [McAlarney] would have made the three to cut it to eight, they called a foul.”

After the foul call, Jackson missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Irish never got closer to the Tar Heels.

But McAlarney did his best to help Notre Dame fight back. The shooting guard knocked down three more 3-pointers as the Irish desperately tried to get back in the game.

But No. 1 North Carolina had too much firepower for McAlarney and the Irish.

“At the end, when McAlarney was making all those threes, we were still answering on the other end,” Williams said. “You hate to play against somebody who’s 10-for-18 from the three-point line but you just have to congratulate him because a couple of them [were very tough shots]. So you just have to congratulate him.”

McAlarney torched one of the most athletic teams in the country in North Carolina. He said Tar Heels guard Ty Lawson is one of the most difficult tests the Irish will face.

“He’s probably the fastest guard we’ll go up against all year, by far,” McAlarney said. “He’s very good, very good. We have a lot of great guards in our league, great backcourts but this was definitely among the top backcourts that we’ll play all year.”

And after McAlarney lit up Lawson and the Tar Heels for 39 points, just imagine what the Irish guard is capable of against the average Big East backcourt.