Harangody continued his hot play. The sophomore forward, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, shot just 2-of-7 in the first half. The Dons, once down 23 in the first half, mounted a challenge in the second half. USF cut the lead to 50-45 with 14:08 remaining.
That's when the physical sophomore forward went to work. Harangody scored 14 of the team's next 20 points, his last basket in the stretch giving Notre Dame a 68-55 lead with 5:40 left in the contest. The sophomore forward finished the contest with 23 points and 10 rebounds. It was Harangody's fifth double-double of the season as the sophomore continued his excellent start to the year.As for Jackson, the Saginaw, MI native was in a bit of a slump before Saturday's contest. The sophomore point guard was shooting just 35 percent from the field, including 2-of-19 from three-point range.
But on Saturday, Jackson was in a groove. The sophomore finished with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and dished out 10 assists. On two of those assists in the second half, Jackson found Harangody both times streaking down the floor, the last one giving the Irish a 66-53 lead and it brought the Joyce Center crowd to their feet. The one-two sophomore punch is what Brey envisioned when they signed at Notre Dame.
"We expected big things out of them when we signed them," head coach Mike Brey said after Saturday's win. "They were really good kids in high school and tough kids. I think we've coached them and put them in right situations and simplified what we want them to do. They're very confident young men after the freshman year they had. We've talked to them throughout the summer about being special and key guys.
"Certainly, Harangody continues to play that way and gives us a good presence. Jackson always has that presence for us. It was good for him to finish tonight and get him going into the hole mode."
***Notre Dame has two games left before Big East play starts on January 3rd. The Irish will host West Virginia on that day at the Joyce Center and follow it up two days later with another home conference contest, this time against Connecticut. Before this happens, Notre Dame will take on Brown next Saturday night and North Florida on December 31st.
Head coach Mike Brey said before the San Francisco game that the team will treat each of the remaining non-conference contests as their own separate entities. Brey must like how his team is playing at home. Notre Dame's lowest scoring output this season at the Joyce Center was 76 against Eastern Michigan. The Irish are in a groove on the offensive side of the ball while defensively, the Notre Dame head coach thinks there's room for improvement.
"I like how we're playing," Brey said. "Our eight guys are our eight guys. Peoples didn't get much tonight but it was a Tory Jackson in-a-groove night and you let him go. I think we know what our identity. We can always be better defensively and take away the paint. I think that's a thing we'll keep coming back to with the Big East coming up and the speed coming at you increases. We'll work on that and emphasize that. Offensively, I like where we are now. We know what a good shot is. We know what our weapons are."
***The Notre Dame players are off until Thursday. Brey allowed his players to go home after the victory over the Dons for a few days before reporting back two days before the contest versus Brown.