Before the Youngstown State contest, the junior guard was in a classic shooting slump. McAlarney was 4-of-19, including just 2-of-8 from three-point range, in losses to Baylor and Georgia Tech in the Paradise Jam Tournament in the Virgin Islands. Maybe the junior guard saw the schedule on the return trip back to South Bend. After back-to-back losses, Notre Dame (4-2) returned home to play nine of the next ten games at the Joyce Center before Big East Conference action started.
McAlarney got off to a good start against Youngstown State. The junior poured in a career-high 23 points to go along with Luke Harangody's 25. Head coach Mike Brey talked about the law of averages evening out with a jump shooter like McAlarney. The averages were in the junior guard's favor versus Colgate as McAlarney totaled a new career-high of 25 points, including seven made baskets from three point range. The junior was in the zone.
"Before I even touched it, I knew it could go in," McAlarney said. "It's that kind of rhythm that I was in (on Monday). I was just dying to get the ball. I really credit my teammates. They really found me."
Colgate's head coach Emmett Davis was quite impressed by what he saw from McAlarney on Monday night.
"He is an exceptional player," Davis said. "He shot the ball well and handled it well. He is a point guard on the floor but can shoot it well, too."McAlarney turned a close contest at the end of the first half into a comfortable advantage. Colgate was within 40-33 with under two minutes to go before halftime. But the junior nailed back-to-back three pointers to give Notre Dame a 13-point intermission lead. After halftime, McAlarney connected on two more quick bombs, the second giving the Irish a 59-40 advantage. Colgate would not get within 15 for the rest of the contest. Coupled with Tory Jackson's seven assist-one turnover effort against the Raiders, the Notre Dame backcourt appears on their game.
"Tory and I have the ball to drive it in there," McAlarney said. "We're looking for open shooters, open cutters, and our big guys can out run any big guys in the country. If they're running in the lanes its easy to make plays, and we have a pretty good shot."
***The last two wins were the 22nd and 23rd straight in the Joyce Center. It's the second longest streak in Notre Dame school history and the Irish will try to make it 24 in a row on Saturday night. The Irish will host Eastern Michigan at the Joyce Center and tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
Notre Dame doesn't have the toughest home non-conference slate in the world. The Irish's December opponents at the Joyce Center are Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, San Francisco, Brown and North Florida. In the latest Sagarin Ratings, San Francisco is rated the highest at 166 while North Florida is 340 out of 341 teams. Despite the lack of stiff competition at home, the players aren't going into the games thinking cakewalk.
"We don't expect anything," junior forward Rob Kurz said, who notched his second double-double of the season with a 20-point, 10-rebound performance in the win over Colgate. "We know its college basketball and there are upsets all the time. We want to come out and play well so that we can finish as well as we can."
***Notre Dame assisted on 25 of the 32 made baskets in the victory over Colgate. In the win against Youngstown State, the Irish assisted on 24 of the 32 made baskets.