Taking care of business

Ben Hansbrough (who else?) keys Irish victory at DePaul, 83-58.

Rosemont, Ill.Ben Hansbrough scored 24 points and fellow transfer Scott Martin added 15 as No. 8 Notre Dame rolled winless DePaul Thursday night, 83-58.

After the Irish jumped to a 7-0 lead, the Blue Demons used a frenzied full-court press to draw close early, closing to within two, 17-15, at the 12-minute mark. But Notre Dame finished the half on a 20-9 run as its hosts missed 11 of their last 12 shots, scoring just one field goal over the final nine minutes heading into the break.

"We handled their pressure well when they really tried to rev us up, and I thought we controlled tempo when we needed to and defended well," offered Irish head coach Mike Brey.

The Irish picked up where they left off to open the second stanza, draining a trio of wing three-point shots – two by Hansbrough – in the first three minutes as part of an 11-3 run to bury their hapless hosts in a 48-29 hole.

"One of the things we wanted to do was come out and set the tone," Hansbrough said. "Leave it all on the court. We did that; threw the first punches, then we continued to do so."

Following a Tim Abromaitis dunk and Martin tip-in goal, Hansbrough added his fifth and final three-point bucket of the contest, then followed with a smooth change of hands and lefty finish to extend the Irish lead to 23, 57-34, with just over 11 minutes remaining.

In addition to Hansbrough's 24 points, Abromaitis broke out of a two-game slump with 13 points and three steals in 29 minutes. Classmate Tyrone Nash added 10 points and a team-high 8 boards while Martin notched 7 rebounds to augment his 15 points.

"I thought our energy was really good. We were excited to compete, we hadn't competed in awhile," Brey said of the team's nine day lay-off since an upset of then No. 2 Pittsburgh.

Part of that early energy was focused on DePaul's high-powered freshman Cleveland Melvin. The Blue Demons leading scorer was held to four points on 2 of 9 shooting though he did bring down 10 boards in the defeat.

"I think Ty Nash did a great job, early, defending him," Brey said of the effort vs. Melvin. "Then our team defense was pretty good. Our position defense on him was excellent but Ty Nash didn't let him get going early to get too confident."

Melvin's fellow freshman, Brandon Young, led the now 0-9 league play Blue Demons with 16 points, albeit on 14 field goal attempts with five turnovers. Those miscues plagued DePaul – 18 turnovers in all to exacerbate a horrendous 19-54 shooting effort including misses on 16 of 25 three-point shots.

The Irish knocked down nine of 21 from downtown and better than 50 percent of their shots from the floor while committing just nine turnovers; only three after the halftime break.

"It's another Big East win. They all count the same," Hansbrough said. "We have to treat them the same, and I think we did a really good job of doing that tonight."

With the win, Notre Dame moved into sole possession of second place in the current Big East standings. The 18-4/7-3 Irish will host 3-7 Rutgers Sunday in South Bend before current #13 Louisville (17-5/6-3) pays a visit to the Purcell Pavilion next Wednesday.

Notre Dame is now 2-3 on the road in conference and a perfect 5-0 on the Joyce Center floor. The Irish take to the road for three straight over an 11-day span before closing February with the season's final two home tilts.

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