A historical win to close out a great year at home and Rob Kurz's career at the JACC. Irish revert to a solid defense after three straight offensively charged performances.
Working with an official box score tonight from the media tables, so you can count on the numbers being spot on.
Hard fought game overall, very physical. Ed Corbett, Jim Haney, and Glenn Mayborg did nothing to help the game flow on either side. Way too much emphasis on tough fouls as both teams got away with murder under the hoop. Corbett also has dreams of officiating the next level the way he ignored travelling violations all night.
The Irish shot surprisingly very well from the floor. A 68 point performance would indicate a shooting percentage far below 54% for this squad. Devensively, they did a great job shutting down a terrible Red Storm team. Fresh Prince Anthony Mason Jr. needed plenty of luck on two of his four three pointers and still made less than 1/3 from the floor.
Rebounding edge went slightly to St. John's. Dele Coker and Co. hung all over Luke Harangody in a successful effort to keep his rebounding total down. Neither side made many trips to the foul line. The Irish finished with 19 assists on 28 field goals, adding to their national lead in the assist category.
Even with all the physicality and losing the rebounding edge, Notre Dame outscored St. John's 36-28 in the paint. 20 points off 12 turnovers really helped the Irish as well.
Tory Jackson continues to come along as a player. 4 points, 5 rebounds, with 8 assists on 4 turnovers. Broke down the St. John's defense on a few occasions to set up his teammates. The assist total is more impressive when you note that the Irish made only 5 three pointers on the night, meaning Jackson had to create more to pick up his assists.
Kyle McAlarney with a solid game. 13 points on 5-9 shooting. After the DePaul win, K-Mac noted that his legs were feeling a bit sluggish. That could support the common complaint of Brey playing his starters too often. Nonetheless, McAlarney found his stroke when he needed (3-5 from three) even if it was a less than dominating performance.
Zach Hillesland is another guy who looks to be improving every game. 6 points, 6 assists in 30 minutes. The most playing time of the season even with 4 fouls. For a wing, he does a great job distributing the ball and has great handles for a 6'8" guy. He was called a "point forward" coming out of high school and seems to be showing that ability to control the game from the side.
Luke Harangody with 20 and 6. Only 27 minutes played, but was very efficient on the floor. 9-12 shooting. As the game wore on, the team looked to Harangody to keep the lead from falling below 10. He put the ball in the basket when needed and overcame physical defense for yet another 20+ point performance. Only 6 rebounds is low for the big guy, but no reason to think that he won't be back in double figures Saturday.
Thanks to Rob Kurz for a great career with the Irish. The lone senior and captain scored 15 and grabbed 4 boards. Surprising to see how he scored the points tonight. With only one three-pointer, Rob showed some surprising agility with his ability to cut in the paint and receive passes going towards the basket. Cut like a knife through the defense on a few occasions. Truly a great leader and all-around good guy, it will be sad to not see him at home again, but here's to several more games in an Irish uniform.
Jonathan Peoples with 3 assists and no turnovers in 10 minutes. That's what he is asked to do. Ryan Ayers with a poor shooting night (that's always tough off the bench), but still scored 5 in 18 minutes. Luke Zeller with the best game off the bench, with 5 points and 4 rebounds. He is looking more confident in the paint and will surely get a shot at Kurz's starting position next year.
With a low scoring contest and such a different game from what we have been used to in the last few weeks, a 13 point win is great tonight. St. John's truly is a bad basketball team (it takes more than suiting up 5 athletes to play hoops), but they had plenty of reason to go all out tonight. Seeing how Norm Roberts used his timeouts down the stretch and kept the defensive pressure up with the game lost, you could tell that they really wanted to win the game.
Two straight years unbeaten at home. That's a Big East record and very impressive indeed. Maybe Wyoming can pull off the upset of BYU tonight and place ND at the top of home streaks nationwide.
Need to stay focused and beat South Florida on Saturday, but this team rarely has trouble with its focus. A win in Tampa and a solid run next week means a 4 seed or better. Who predicted that at the beginning of the year?
Happy birthday to Rob and thanks once again to him. Good luck in the future, but first lets end your career on a happy note.