Chandler could not get it going from the field, shooting just 4-of-13. He totaled only nine points, which is five below his season average. With Rob Kurz shadowing him on almost every possession, Chandler rarely got a clean look at the basket inside the paint area. It was part of the game plan to prevent another offensive outburst from the Blue Demons star.
"He really killed us last game," junior forward Rob Kurz said. "We knew coming into the game how we defended him would be critical for us to win the game. Thankfully, we stayed in good position on him and challenged his jump shot. We tried to be physical with him and not allow him to get easy baskets in transition."
"We weren't going to do anything different like doubling," head coach Mike Brey said. "I wanted to see how he would be. I thought Rob Kurz did a fabulous job on him. Rob Kurz is an excellent post defender. I told him to make him take jump shots and make him a perimeter player. Let's get him from going to the basket. If he beat us with three-pointers, then we'll make a decision. Rob did a good job of giving him a little ground and keeping him off the backboard."
Team defense as a whole was huge for Notre Dame on Tuesday night. They held DePaul to 34 percent shooting. In the first half, the Irish effort was at its peak. The Blue Demons scored only 22 points before intermission and could not buy a basket from behind the arc. DePaul was 0-of-10 from three-point range in the first half and 2-of-19 in the game. In one 10-minute stretch in the first half, the Blue Demons made just one field goal and allowed Notre Dame to stretch a five-point lead into a 27-12 advantage. Brey credited the solid showing on the offensive end for the great defensive effort.
"The thing we've been doing the best three games is being in a good offensive rhythm," Brey said. "When Rob went down and Russ (Carter) was a little nicked up, we weren't really in a good offensive now. But now we're back scoring the basketball. That's certainly big for us. We're a heck of an offensive team. For our guys, or any guys, if you're playing good on offense, you guard better. That's human nature."
***To say Tory Jackson had a breakout game might be an understatement. In fact, the freshman point guard has been playing at a high level the past few weeks. Jackson was a tear on Tuesday night. He scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. It was one point below his career-high. Jackson did get one in the rebounding category, where he snagged nine boards. Most importantly, he dished out six assists to only one turnover.
Many thought Notre Dame was in trouble when Kyle McAlarney was dismissed from the team for the remainder of the semester in December. But Jackson has proved that he's consistently getting better every time the Irish play. Whether it's hitting two early three-pointers in the win over Cincinnati this past Sunday to jump start the offense or limiting his turnovers, Jackson has become one of the players Notre Dame can least be without on the floor.
"I don't even see it as surprising and the coaches don't see is as surprising," Jackson said about his play. "They get on me just like they get on the seniors. When the seniors aren't doing right, they are on me like that because I have to be a leader on this team. I have to help out, contribute in some kind of way, and when they don't see me contributing, I feel like it's hurting the team. They get on me and I need it too. I need somebody to do it."
***The slogan for the Marquette-Notre Dame game this Saturday might be billed as "The Battle for the Bye." Both teams are tied for fourth place in the Big East at 9-5. The winner would own the tiebreaker and a game lead for a bye in the conference tournament in New York City.
Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 PM and ABC will have the television broadcast. The Golden Eagles have been on a recent roller coaster ride. They won eight in a row before being throttled by a hot Georgetown team. No. 16 Marquette then lost to DePaul and Louisville before finally winning on Monday night over Villanova. The stakes are high and Brey expects a high-intensity contest.
"Going in and winning three in a row and playing pretty well is certainly a frame of mind you want," Brey said about the game versus Marquette. "We need a little rest tomorrow. Tomorrow is our off day. Then we have two days to tune up for Marquette. I think they are back in gear with their win last night. They are really, really talented."