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Men’s Basketball: Grant, Martin lead Irish to top Chicago State

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, November 26, 2012

Notre Dame used blistering shooting and timely runs to romp over Chicago State 92-65 Monday night in its final tune-up before a primetime matchup with Kentucky on Thursday.

Junior guard Jerian Grant scored 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting while graduate student guard Scott Martin returned to the lineup with 11 points – all in the first half. Grant also added a career-high 10 assists.

“I’m just playing my game, kind of like I was last year, not putting a lot of pressure on myself, just going out there and playing like I usually do,” Grant said.

Notre Dame (6-1) shot 61 percent and knocked down 12 3-pointers, including 10 in the first half. Between the two teams, there was only one two-point basket in the first 6:59 of play and Notre Dame did not score inside the arc until 11:42 was left in the first half.

“I thought our offensive rhythm was good tonight and that’s something we’ll need not only Thursday but also down the road,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “Our offensive identity and flow has gotten better here in the last seven or eight days and not a moment too soon with what’s coming Thursday.”

The Cougars (1-6) went nearly four minutes in the first half without scoring a field goal, allowing the Irish lead to balloon from three to 11. The Irish used separate 10-3, 12-2 and 12-3 runs to build a 51-32 halftime lead.

“When we’re knocking down shots and running up and down the floor, Coach just lets us go,” Grant said. “That’s the good thing about Coach, he lets us play and when we play like that, we’re hard to beat.”

Notre Dame’s 51 first-half points were the most it scored in a half this season. The Irish scored 49 points in the second half against Monmouth on Nov. 12. Notre Dame’s 26 assists were also a season-high.

The Irish topped their previous season high for points with almost five minutes to go in the game. Notre Dame had six players score in double-figures for the first time this season and also had five players hit at least two 3-pointers.

After scoring 30 points from behind the arc in the first half, the Irish pounded the Cougars inside after halftime, scoring 30 of their 42 points in the paint in the second half.

“They weren’t really guarding us on the perimeter and in the second half, they switched it and over exaggerated the perimeter so we could just drive by,” Irish senior forward Jack Cooley said. “So we played how the game dictated.”

The Irish turned a blowout into a rout by scoring 18 consecutive points over nearly six minutes in the second half, highlighted by six from senior center Garrick Sherman. Sherman finished the contest with 12 points.

Chicago State hit three of its first four shots but cooled down after that, shooting 36 percent for the game. Sophomore guard Clarke Rosenberg led the Cougars with 16 points.

The Irish will welcome defending national champion and No. 8 Kentucky to Purcell Pavilion on Thursday night for Notre Dame’s biggest non-conference test of the season. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at [email protected]