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SOUTH BEND - Good thing Luke Harangody was available, because the Notre Dame basketball team needed him Wednesday night. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound sophomore missed the Irish's first exhibition game last Friday with a torn ligament in his right thumb, but he had his cast removed on Tuesday, and was set to go for the team's final tune-up before the regular season.

Harangody scored 14 of his game-high 15 points in the second half, and grabbed eight rebounds in helping the Irish close out the preseason with a 71-56 home victory over feisty St. Edwards, a Division II program out of Austin Texas.

Teammate Rob Kurz also had 15 points.

At one point, the Hilltoppers closed to within 43-39 early in the second half, before Harangody, who was playing with a protective-type splint, sparked a 9-0 run with a quick five points on a jumper, a lay-up and a free throw. St. Edwards never got within eight points the rest of the way.

"We talked about seeing limited action tonight, but I was ready for whatever," Harangody said. He played 26 minutes, 15 of those coming after intermission. "I enjoyed being out their tonight, it was good to be out there.

Harangody had been participating in practice with the club on his hand, so his conditioning was fine. He said that he never felt pain in his thumb throughout the game, but was wearing a huge bag of ice that covered his hand during his post-game interview.

The Irish open the season this coming Monday at the Joyce Center against Long Island, and Harangody will wear the splint for most of the campaign.

***It didn't count but early in the second half, Harangody spun baseline and threw down a monster two-handed jam. Unfortunately, he stepped out of bounds, but it was a move the sleeker Harangody is able to make compared to last season.

"I think last year I may not have been that quick, maybe not that explosive," Harangody said. He played at 255 pounds last year. "That's where I feel better, I feel quicker."

***It's no surprise, but it looks like coach Mike Brey is going to go with a eight-man rotation this season, that leaves the four freshmen on the outside looking in. Guard Tyrone Nash, and forwards Tim Abromaitis and Carleton Scott all checked in with a minute remaining against the Hilltoppers, and Scott connected on a short jumper for two points.

Brey was able to rotate his eight returning players, trying different combinations throughout the evening.

"I think we said early in the season the eight veteran guys are probably going to get the minutes," Brey said. "It was great to have Harangody and for him to get the 26. I would've rather played him 15, but you know, I think to win the game he had to play 25 minutes at least in my opinion. And I think it was great for him that he was in the battle before we start Monday and had to make a free throw and had to make a play.

"But those eight guys are clearly there. We have to make some decisions on our young guys here and what we're going to do with them over the season the next couple days."

With Harangody out the first exhibition game against St. Ambrose (Iowa), Nash became the team's eighth man, so he'll likely play some minutes this season. Scott, Abromaitis and Ty Proffitt are the possible red-shirt candidates.

***With Ohio State, Michigan State and Baylor falling to Division II programs already this season, Notre Dame didn't want to join the list.

"I think we addressed that at halftime to each other," junior guard Kyle McAlarney said. The Irish were up 38-28 at the break, and McAlarney finished with 12 points. "It doesn't go unnoticed. It was all over the place in the headlines. Big teams are losing to these Division II schools. But that was a good team tonight."

"The thing about it is, we know that anytime you step on the floor, every team in college basketball, no matter what level, Division I, Division II, they're all good teams," Kurz said. "And that was a very good team tonight."

***Kurz scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, as the Irish built a 10-point cushion.

"I just got some open looks," he said, going 4-of-5 from the floor and the free throw line. "I just got a bunch of good shots and I was fortunate enough to knock them down."

***Point guard Tory Jackson caught a case of the flu, and it showed in his play. The sophomore battled through 34 minutes, scoring 11 points and dishing out four assists, but he had six turnovers.

"I played terrible," he stated. The Irish had 18 assists and 19 turnovers. "I just felt winded. If it's just the weather, I don't know what it is but I felt very winded. I couldn't breathe and it affected me real bad and I let it get to me."

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