Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
December 16, 2006NOTRE DAME, Ind.-Notre Dame left its hangover from final exams in the classroom where it belonged.
Racing to a 10-0 lead, the No. 21-ranked Irish (8-1) built a 20-point advantage late in the first half and never allowed the Phoenix of Elon (1-7) to threaten as the Irish claimed a thorough and decisive 94-63 victory.
It was Notre Dame's first game since knocking off No. 4-ranked Alabama nine days earlier.
"We played the way we practiced," said Irish head coach Mike Brey. "I've really never had a group be that good during exam week. We got off to a good start, and other than a stretch where we turned it over a couple of times, we were pretty business-like and pretty matter of fact."
Russell Carter led all scorers with 21 points. Co-captain Rob Kurz filled the stat sheet with 16 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots. Luke Harangody joined Kurz in the double-double department with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Luke Zeller tossed in a season-high 14 points. Kyle McAlarney had nine points and Tory Jackson scored eight.
The Irish played without the services of co-captain Colin Falls, Notre Dame's third leading scorer at 13.8 points per game. Falls underwent shock wave therapy eight days earlier-the day after Notre Dame's victory over Alabama-to treat plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He underwent similar treatment in June.
"You put 94 on the board without Falls, which is impressive," Brey said. "What I talked to our group about was the Carter-Kurz-McAlarney trio to be more of a rock on the floor without Falls, because Falls has been that guy. That was a big step."
The Irish forced the action from the outset, applying a man-to-man press and forcing the Phoenix into some early turnovers. Elon had averaged 22 turnovers in its previous three games (but committed just 12 against the Irish).
Notre Dame also destroyed Elon on the backboards, 55-30, including 31-13 in the decisive first half when the Irish took a 47-27 lead.
"They hurt us inside and they hurt us outside," said Elon head coach Ernie Nestor, who coached Brey at the Five-Star Basketball Camp in 1976. "We got hammered (on the backboards). That was the key to the game tonight."
Carter, the reigning Big East player of the week, connected on 5-of-7 three-point attempts. Like his teammates, he showed no ill effects coming off of final exams, which has been an albatross for Irish teams in the past.
"I don't think finals really affected us that much," Carter said. "Once we put the uniforms on, we know we have to play. But it is good to be out of class and just worry about basketball."
Kurz did a little bit of everything against the Phoenix in 30 minutes of work.
"I've never had that many assists before, that's for sure," Kurz said. "I guess I just saw people who were open. I always try to be unselfish, but people were making shots.
"One of the things coach talked about right from the beginning of the game was to set the tone defensively. We worked on that all week in practice because we haven't played in a week-and-a-half and we wanted to make sure we came out playing hard."
Kurz's double-double was his fourth of the season while Harangody's was the second of his career.
Notre Dame held Elon to 36.2 percent shooting. Elon's leading scorer, 6-foot-6 senior LeVonn Jordan (20.0), missed his first nine shots and finished with seven points on 2-of-12 shooting. Jordan is still trying to rebound from a concussion suffered in late November. The Phoenix are also without the services of senior point guard Montell Watson, who is sidelined with a right foot injury.
Elon's Chris Chalko, a South Bend native and former Mishawaka (Ind.) Marian High School standout, scored 12 points in his return home. Devan Carter led the Phoenix with 14 points.
Falls could be back for Tuesday's game (Dec. 19) against Portland or Thursday's game (Dec. 21) versus Army. If the Irish medical staff gives him clearance, Brey won't hesitate to play him.
"Does he come back before the Christmas break? Maybe, maybe," Brey said. "You don't want to be crazy, but I want him to play.
"(People say) be safe. Well, BS. If we've got a window of opportunity, I want him in there because he's a key guy for us. But he certainly would be back the 28th (versus Rider) if we can't get him back before."
Notre Dame NEWS