The Irish used a balanced attack on Wednesday, totaling four players in double figures as they roared past Winston-Salem State 90-45. Notre Dame improves to 5-1 on the season. The only solid opponent on the schedule has been No. 18 Butler, who defeated the Irish 71-69 in the NIT. It's been cupcake city this year but now comes the real challenge. Next week, the Irish travel to Washington, D.C. to face No. 19 Maryland on Sunday. After that, a home date and national television appearance on ESPN with No. 7 Alabama awaits on Tuesday and Notre Dame officials are calling for fans to wear black to the game. On Wednesday, it was another all-around solid tune-up in preparation for the big guns on the slate.
"I thought we did a much better job than Monday, not only defensively but offensively," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "We took some tough shots on Monday and it put us in a tough hole early. We were very efficient to start the game and it helped us. It certainly was a game where you could look at some things and play some different guys. I like the fact that they pressed us and trapped us because we are going to see that on Monday."
The only real suspense in the contest was whether or not the referees would make it on time. An accident on the Toll Road delayed their attendance until minutes before tip-off. The most entertaining moment might have been when Irish freshman Tory Jackson's missed a dunk late in the second half. Besides that, it was all Notre Dame. Winston-Salem State did score the first points of the contest, a three-pointer by Darrell Wonge. But the Irish went on a 10-0 run to pull out to an eight-point lead and never looked back en route to shooting 54 percent before intermission 57 percent for the contest."You want to come out of here feeling good, " Brey said. "It's a pleasant locker room because a lot of people played well and everyone played. It's a nice setting to come back to and we'll get back to work tomorrow as we prepare for a heck of an opponent on Sunday night."
The Irish had been averaging seven three-pointers a game. They matched the mark in the first half, getting three from Colin Falls and two each from Russell Carter and Kyle McAlarney. Carter not only asserted himself on the perimeter but around the basket. The senior guard had two high flying thunderous dunks before intermission. He ended the contest with 10 points.
McAlarney, in particular, finally got rolling on the offensive end. This season, his highest output was nine points in the opening win over IPFW. Since then, he's averaged just five points a game. McAlarney had been shooting 37 percent from the field, including a lowly 26 percent from his specialty three-point range. But the sophomore point guard scored 10 points in the first half on 4-of-6 shooting to earn a season-high.
The Rams (1-9) tallest player in the starting lineup was the 6-6 Wonge and Jamal Durham. This must have brought a smile to the face of the Irish frontcourt, which outrebounded Winston-Salem State 41-19 on the night. Points in the paint: Notre Dame 40, Winston-Salem State 10.
Rob Kurz stands at 6-9 and took full advantage of the height difference to assert himself in the paint. The junior forward notched his second double-double of the year and fourth of his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Kurz was pretty efficient in doing so, shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Coming into Wednesday, he was the team's leader in field goal percentage (minimum attempts 20) at 62.5 percent. Kurz has scored in double figures in five of six games.
"He's just pretty solid, isn't he?" Brey asked reporters. "He's really a confident guy. He knows who he is. He doesn't get out of character. He knows what his strengths are and plays to them.
"I'm happy for him. We haven't had a harder worker here. The only guy that worked manically in that category was (Troy) Murphy. A guy that puts so much time into it and wants it that bad, I want it for him. I'm very pleased. He also sets a great tone with his work ethic with the young guys.
"I think you saw at the end of the year last season the development of a very good Big East forward. It's happening. It's coming. It's starting to nurture itself."
Falls notched a double digit scoring performance for the second straight game. The senior guard ended the contest with 13 points. Falls also become the 45th player in Notre Dame men's basketball history to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier. Luke Harangody chipped in nine points to continue his solid freshman campaign. The blowout allowed Brey to empty his bench and gave nine players 10-plus minutes of court time.
WINSTON SALEM STATE 45
Fisher 1-6, 0-0 2; Smith 0-0, 0-0 0; Wray 4-9, 3-3 12; Porter 0-1, 0-0 0; Carter 1-1, 0-2 2; Wonge 2-7, 0-0 5; Durham 2-8, 6-10 10; McCandies 0-1, 0-0 0; Floyd 1-3, 0-0 3; Moore 1-3, 0-0 2; Lewis 0-0, 0-0 0; Peake 2-5, 3-3 7; Hines 0-2, 0-0 0; Murphy 0-0, 2-2 2; Totals: 14-46, 14-20 45.
NOTRE DAME 90
Jackson 2-6, 1-1 5; Harden 1-2, 0-02; Falls 4-8, 2-2 13; Peoples 2-2, 2-2 7; McAlarney 4-6, 0-0 10; Kurz 5-5, 8-8 18; Hillesland 1-1, 2-2 4; Piller 0-0, 0-0 0; Zeller 3-6, 0-0 6; Andree 0-0, 0-0 0; Ayers 2-4, 2-2 6; Carter 4-9, 0-0 10; Harangody 4-7, 1-2 9; Totals: 32-56, 18-19 90.