Pretty uninspired effort by the Irish is enough to get the job done and propel them into the second round of the NIT.
With a couple thousand fans on hand (probably something like the 3314 we had in '06 [EDIT: 2039, worse than Chris Thomas' senior year]), the Joyce Center was embarrassingly barren. Can't really blame the locals for not showing up to see a former top-ten team play in the NIT.
Robert Vaden was very impressive in his final game as a Blazer, scoring 24 on 6-13 shooting from beyond the arc. He shot over every defender we put on him and really made our perimeter defense look bad.
Tory Jackson was pretty iffy, matching 4 turnovers with his 4 assists tonight. He wasted a couple of critical possessions down the stretch by draining the shot clock and taking some pretty unhelpful drives to the basket. Those failed trips nearly single-handedly gave UAB a chance to get back in the game. 9 points with a nice night from the line (4-4), but poor shooting overall (2-9).
Kyle McAlarney scored 12 points on 3-6 shooting. Very Ryan Ayers-esque in his approach, not forcing anything and just knocking down the open looks. He did assist on baskets four times without a single turnover. 4-4 from the line as well.
Ryan Ayers finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds. Add 2 steals and an assist to that total. Zach Hillesland hurt himself, yet again, and only played 12 minutes.
Luke Harangody picked up a tenth rebound in the final minute to finish with yet another double double. He settled down in the second half and scored 22 in the game. In the first half, Luke missed some layups under the basket and bricked a couple three pointers. When he resolves to spend some more time in the paint and stop fading away on every shooting attempt, the Irish run well on offense. However, Luke often turns himself into a midrange player and runs back on defense like a guard which impairs offensive efficiency and eliminates any opportunity for second chance points.
Not a whole lot to say about this game. The guys just seemed flat playing in front of the empty seats at home. UAB bailed them out on the charity stripe (5-13) and generally looked like a vastly inferior team after watching Big East competition since January. Hopefully we can shake out the cobwebs and play better on Thursday or Friday against the winner of the Nebraska/New Mexico game (most likely Steve Alford's bunch). We do know that the next game will be at home, unless the women's NCAA tournament moves it to Fort Wayne.
In other news, Luke Harangody has been named a second team All-American by the USBWA. Congrats, Luke.
EDIT: Next game will be Thursday at the Joyce Center. Come one, come all.