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Men’s Basketball: Demons downed

Douglas Farmer | Friday, February 4, 2011

ROSEMONT, Ill. — No. 9 Notre Dame moved into second place in the Big East with a 83-58 victory over DePaul Thursday night at Allstate Arena.

The Irish (18-4, 7-3 Big East) have only won two games on the road all season, their last two, and this trend-changer has raised Notre Dame above the five other teams in the conference with six wins, at least for the time being.

“I’m proud of our group. We talked about our goal of winning two-in-a-row on the road,” Irish coach Mike Brey said after the game. “This group has done a lot this year, but hasn’t done that yet. I think our leadership did a great job.”

Senior guard Ben Hansbrough led the Irish with 24 points, including 5-for-8 on 3-point attempts, in their first game since beating then-second-ranked Pittsburgh on the road nine days ago.

“I thought the layoff helped us,” Brey said. “We got energized. Our energy was great this week in practice, and our energy was good tonight again.”

The Blue Demons (6-16, 0-9) remained within striking distance through most of the first half, only down two points with eight minutes remaining, but fell behind 37-24 entering the half thanks to an 18-4 run from the Irish. Coming out of the break, Notre Dame’s sharpshooters quickly put the contest out of reach, as Hansbrough hit two 3-pointers and fourth-year forward Tim Abromaitis added one more before the first media timeout.

“One of the things we wanted to do was come out and set the tone,” Hansbrough said. “And leave it all on the court. I think we did that.”

Senior guard Scott Martin followed Hansbrough as Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer with 15, while senior forward Tyrone Nash added 8 rebounds. Nash also hit the first 3-pointer of his four-year career as the shot clock expired late in the first half, part of Notre Dame’s deciding run, on his way to 10 points. Nash’s only previous attempt came nearly exactly three years ago in a 95-69 Irish victory at Seton Hall on Feb. 6, 2008.

Abromaitis added 13 points for the Irish, who as a team shot 50.9 percent from the field.

DePaul remains winless in conference play this season, but the lopsided win provides the same value to Notre Dame’s record as the nail-biter win over Pittsburgh did.

“It’s another Big East win,” Hansbrough said. “I told the guys before we played, ‘This is another Big East win.’ They all count the same so we need to treat them the same.”

Notre Dame’s two-game road trip, with its nine-day layover included, ends as the Irish will host Rutgers Sunday at noon and No. 15 Louisville Wednesday at 7 p.m.