A look at the Irish
One of the most historic rivalries in college basketball renews as Marquette and Notre Dame meet for the 109th time at the Bradley Center on Saturday.
Jeff Wolf/ MarquetteHoops.com
January 10, 2008
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(12-2, 2-0 Big East)
Head Coach Mike Brey (8th season)
Tory Jackson, SO G, 5-11/193
Kyle McAlarney, JR G, 6-0/196
Ryan Ayers,JR G, 6-7/210
Rob Kurz, SR F, 6-9/232
Lukle Harangody, SO F, 6-8/251
Zach Hillesland, JR F, 6-9/233
One of the most historic rivalries in college basketball renews as Marquette and Notre Dame meet for the 109th time at the Bradley Center on Saturday. The Irish lead the all-time series 76-32, and took last year's game 85-73 in South Bend, but the Golden Eagles have won six of the last nine meetings.
The Irish are coming off a hard-fought 73-67 victory against Connecticut. Second-year forward Luke Harangody leads the Irish in both scoring and rebounding. He averages 18.2 points per game and has five games of 20 points or more, including a career-high 29 points against West Virginia.
Yet the biggest story for Notre Dame has been the return of Kyle McAlarney. After being expelled from the university last year for marijuana possession, McAlarney has come back to school and given the Irish a huge boost on the court. He is averaging 14.9 points and 3.8 assists per game while shooting lights-out from beyond the arc. McAlarney was unconscious in the UConn game, as he poured in 32 points and hit six three-pointers.
After McAlarney deciding to re-enroll at Notre Dame last winter, the team welcomed him back with open arms. Indiana natives Harangody and Zach Hillesland even moved back to campus during the summer to take a summer school class with McAlarney.
"I don't know how great that would have been, coming back to the place that kicked you out and just be here by yourself," Hillesland said. "Me and Luke, since we're so close geographically, it wasn't a big sacrifice. We just wanted to be out here and be here for him."
With a dialed-in McAlarney leading the way, Notre Dame has established itself as one of the most complete offensive units in the country, consistently getting key contributions from the perimeter and the low block. The Irish boast the dangerous combination of being able to both shoot and rebound the basketball exceptionally well.
On the season, the Irish hold a plus-10 rebounding advantage over their opponents and average 43.1 boards per game. Harangody averages 9.5 rebounds per contest, with over half of them coming on the offensive end, and senior Rob Kurz is close behind with an 8.3 rpg average. Even point guard Tory Jackson averages close to five boards per game (4.6).
As a team, Notre Dame is also shooting 42.3 percent from three-point range and hitting an average of 8.5 deep balls per game. McAlarney has already connected on 44 three's this season and is shooting 45.4 percent from beyond the arc, while junior Ryan Ayers is shooting 49.2 (29-59) percent from deep.
Kurz is averaging 13.7 points per game and leads the team in free throw shooting, converting 82.6 percent from the charity stripe. Jackson, a sophomore, is averaging 6.1 assists per game for the Irish.
Golden Eagles Notes:
- Marquette shot a season-low 32.8 percent against Seton Hall, making only 20 field goals. However, they recorded assists on 17 of those baskets (85.0 percent). Maurice Acker recorded a season-high six assists while Jerel McNeal pitched in five.