Saturday, February 09, 2008

Notre Dame 86, Marquette 83

Wow. What a great atmosphere today. The fans showed up for a sellout contest between ranked archrivals and gave the home team the victory.

Up 10 at the half, Notre Dame did a solid job keeping turnovers low and surviving an unreal Marquette barrage from beyond the arc. The team shoots 36% for the season, but somehow manages to knock down half their looks against the Irish. In January, they were 12-24. Until the last second of the game, the Golden Eagles exactly matched that total (a last second James heave made it 12-25).

Up 8 with 2:17 left in the game, Notre Dame managed to let Tom Crean's squad back in the contest with poor shot selection and turnovers. It was the eleven straight free throws over the last 7:13 of the game that iced this one for the Irish. Thanks to Luke Harangody (7) and Jonathan Peoples (4) for saving Notre Dame from themselves.

Even so, it took a Dominic James missed three pointer at the buzzer to keep the win for Notre Dame. Letting James score on four straight uncontested layups was almost deadly. The wannabe NBA player scored 10 of Marquette's last 13 points and nearly single-handedly turned a ten-point Irish lead into a Golden Eagle win.

But first, the positives. Who taught Tory Jackson how to shoot? 2-4 from beyond the arc and seemed unfazed by open looks that he has previously been unable to make. Finished only 4-12, but had 14 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds. Contributed to four of ND's 13 turnovers. Had four personal fouls in his 33 minutes, and was unable to stop James on successive drives to the basket (in fairness, he was clearly told to make sure James did not shoot a three to tie). 4-6 from the line is an improvement, but was far from the basketball when Marquette started fouling.

Kyle McAlarney was just quiet today. Speaks more to a balanced attack than anything else (5 players in double figures). 12 points, 2 assists. 5-11 shooting and 2-6 from three-point. Not a great performance, but not bad either.

Zach Hillesland had his best game of the year. 10 points, 7 rebounds. Was 4-6 shooting and made both free throw attempts. Add in an assist and a blocked shot for a very good overall game.

Rob Kurz was another very quiet player. 5 points, 5 rebounds. Only 24 minutes on the floor, but no foul trouble. Had a block and made one of two three point attempts, but was not his usual quetly efficient self.

Luke Harangody had an off game shooting, but came through on the stripe. Only 4-12 from the field, but finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. 10-13 from the free throw line and we needed every one of those. Turned the ball over 4 times, but also contributed a steal. Fifth straight double double and 13th of the year.

We sure needed those bench guys today. First, let me give some credit to Luke Zeller. The much maligned former Mr. Basketball in Indiana really came through. 11 points, 4 rebounds. 2-4 from three point land. Great for him to get his first double figure game since November. He always gives a good effort, but seldomly is needed as much as he was today. Ryan Ayers with 9 points and 2-5 from beyond the arc. His four point play was true quality. Knocked on his back by Jerel McNeal, Ayers could only lift his head and raise his arms from the hardwood to see the shot fall. Stepped to the line and drained the free one to put the Irish up 63-50. Jonathan Peoples was also very very clutch. 7 points, 5 rebounds. Made a three pointer on a goal tending violation to give ND its first points after Ayers' four point play. Most importantly, was four-for-four from the line, draining two with 18 seconds remaining.

Both teams were very good with the ball, Notre Dame with 13 turnovers and Marquette with 9. The Irish probably would have been around 10, but gave Marquette the ball over and over under two minutes left. Still a great improvement over the 24 in Milwaukee. Marquette outshot the Irish 45% to 43%. With the three-pointers, Maruqette had another great game, knocking down 12 to Notre Dame's 10 (44%). As mentioned, the Golden Eagles were almost indentical from beyond the arc in January, but Notre Dame improved from its earlier 21% performance.

The game was won on the line for the Irish. Not only did the eleven straight keep the ND lead, but 77% for the game and 19 more free ones than Marquette overall. The three-point rebounding advantage for Notre Dame was nice, but actually less than ND's eight-point edge in January.

For Marquette, Hayward and James led the way with 21 and 23, respectively. Both Hayward and Barro finished with double doubles. The 6-10 Barro was no threat scoring, however, with 1-9 shooting. Jerel McNeal added 10 points on an awful shooting performance and David Cubillan gave them 11 off the bench.

The 11,418 in attendence were loud from the tip and gave the Irish some good home support. The Legion's chants of "Tom Crean Sucks" didn't get the Marquette coach to completely lose his cool, but were entertaining nonetheless. The win should put the Irish solidly in the top 20 in both polls, with road games at UCONN and Rutgers next week. Way to keep the streak today (34 straight) and let's just keep on winning.


BlackandGreen said...

Hillesland, Kurz, and Harangody all played with a bit of the stomach flu... not fun at all. Hope they can all be healthy for our contests next week.

Anonymous said...

Looked like a prevent defense at the end, and it nearly prevented a victory. You want to take away the three but you can't let them score in 3 sec on consecutive possessions.

Godd energy and agression .

Anonymous said...

so true, definitely have to question the lack of help defense on james's drives at the end. peoples really surprised me by making all his clutch free throws. great win, how come we always catch marquette on a hot shooting night, especially weird after how terrible they played at home against the cards?

Craig said...

Help defense would have meant open looks from three for the Golden Gold, which would have cost us the game the way Marquette was shooting.

About the only argument you could make is that someone else (JP?) should have been in to guard James, but I don't really think that anybody beside Jackson is quick enough to stay with him, and Tory was handcuffed by playing with four fouls.

BlackandGreen said...

Agreed. Obviously the way we played it was very passive and meant to keep the lead as long as possible. If James kicks out to an open three, we might be talking about how Brey always loses the close games again.

Still, there has to be a better way than just giving James a free layup in five seconds every possession. This game got way too close.

Anonymous said...

I was pulling my hair out at the end of the game... also languishing in the dreaded nationwide 'flu' and all. But Craig is right. Tory had 4, but he was the only defender with the quickness to possibly hang with James - and he couldn't foul.

If one can fault anything, it was the turnovers that created the situation - and the fact that ND couldn't shoot in the last 6 minutes. But you have to credit James - beautiful rips on both Kmac and Jackson.

In the middle of the second half they looked poised to blow it open on a couple of occasions, but with Kyle being well defended and Zack, Rob & Gody hobbled by the flu, they couldn't quite clear the bar.

Kudos for hanging on. They played a solid game until 6 minutes left. Marquette is also the fastest team in the league, by a mile. I'd pick 'em to end up 5th.

My biggest shout out has to go to Zeller. If he can use this game as a spark plug for his previously absent inside game, this team might get into the upper echelon. He showed a lot today. The dunk. Several really hard faught defensive rebounds. Solid defense. With Kurz pretty much hobbled by illness, he stepped up his game to fill a hole. Keep it up Luke.

Anonymous said...

i suppose, maybe we should have fouled them on the drive, james and co. are not the best of free throw shooters
35% as a team is not good, how do they make 50% when they are consistently contested?

Anonymous said...

i meant 3 point percentage btw

Anonymous said...

I think that is the stat everyone is forgetting. Marquette was 12-25 from three point range, and we were still on the verge of blowing them out in the middle of the second half.

They didn't play a bad game. They missed some layups, but with a few exceptions, offensively and defensively, they played the same game they did in Milwaukee.

ND has simply gotten better. And ND didn't play close to the game they played against Seton Hall.

Anonymous said...

You should have led with your 6th paragraph. The fact that Gody and Mctavish played so poorly and we still won had everything to do with the bench and role players. You have the same flow for every post after a win - mix it up brotha. I do not need a regurgitated box score. Please add some intelligible insight otherwise...

Anonymous said...

I don't think Luke and McLarney played bad as much as they were targeted by Marquette's D. Harangody was being doubled/tripled from different angles which is why Brey brought in Zellars so when his man doubled Gody, Z had open three's. Tory also drained 3 3s because his man lost him as he helped on Gody. Total team victory. Way to pull together to overcome illness and a tough opponent.