McAlarney's Hot Hand Continues

SOUTH BEND - The only thing that could stop Kyle McAlarney on Sunday afternoon, was an elbow across the mouth.

Fresh off a school-record 10 3-pointers in the Maui Championship game against top-ranked North Carolina last Wednesday night, McAlarney connected on nine bombs behind the arc in the eighth-ranked Irish's 93-61 victory over Furman, at the Joyce Center on Sunday afternoon.

The win is the 39th straight at home for Notre Dame, setting a school record dating back to 1948. The Irish haven't lost at the Joyce Center since the 2005-06 season.

Playing without the reigning Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody, who was out with pneumonia, the 6-foot McAlarney stepped up and hit six treys in the first half, easily looking like he was going to break his own school record set just a few days ago.

"It felt great," McAlarney said. He finished with a game-high 32 points. "I'm real confident coming off the Maui tournament, and not playing with Luke tonight, I knew I needed to be a little bit more aggressive.

"The looks were there and my teammates, especially Zach Hillesland, I have to give him a ton of credit for just getting me some shots, and like I said the shots were there and I just felt real confident."

McAlarney had 22 points in the first half, equaling Furman's (1-4) effort, as Notre Dame went into intermission with a 37-22 advantage.

"Kyle right now, is in a great frame of mind," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "He's very confident and his teammates have done a really great job of finding him and getting him open."

With 15:47 to go in the second half, McAlarney caught an elbow to the face while playing defense, and the result was five stitches. He didn't return until the 9:28 mark, where he quickly made a trey, his eighth of the game, to give Notre Dame a 73-45 advantage.

While McAlarney was keeping Notre Dame afloat in the first half, his teammates were struggling from the floor. McAlarney shot 8-of-15 the first 20 minutes, while his teammates were just 6-of-18.

Things quickly changed in the second half.

A 22-8 run sparked by Tory Jackson, Ryan Ayers and a four-point play by McAlarney to start the half, put the game away, giving Notre Dame a 59-30 advantage.

"We just stayed in character, we just stayed poised," Ayers said. He scored 14 of his career-high 19 points in the second half. "We didn't worry about the fact that other guys were missing shots or anything like that. We came out and wanted to have a collective effort defensively, especially offensively we got into a rhythm and got our legs underneath us and knocked down some shots."

Jackson finished the game with 13 of his 17 points after halftime, and also added a game-high eight assists. Hillesland was his usual stat-filler self, adding eight points, a game-high 12 rebounds, and five assists, as the Irish shot 61.1 percent in the second half.

"We stayed simple," Jackson said. "We made the simple plays and we got into a rhythm."

Furman's Just Dehm hit three first-half treys, helping his team stay as close as 22-18, before Notre Dame began to blow the game open. Dehm finished with 14 to lead the Paladins.

"I'm proud," Brey stated. "We were mature enough to be focused and ready to play. You come back from the Hawaii trip, and it's almost a give in that you're not supposed to play well, or you're supposed to have jet lag, and of course we have Harangody out, it's an afternoon game, all of our students aren't back. I thought we were pretty mature about handling our business. We got really good minutes from guys off the bench to give us a lift."

In 21 minutes, Tyrone Nash had six points and three rebounds. Jonathan Peoples chipped in four points, six rebounds and two assists, and Carleton Scott played 18 minutes that included four points and four rebounds. Scott brought the Joyce Center crowd to its feet with a thunderous dunk late in the game.

"You know what we did a good job of and I wasn't sure if we'd do it in a game," Brey began, "was no one got out of character even though Harangody wasn't here. The tendency would be I have to do more or do something different because we don't have our leading scorer and rebounder, and I said we really don't need to do that. Just do what you do, play to your strengths and I think that's going to be good enough. I don't know when we're going to get him back, so hopefully we can remember what it felt like today and we get to do it again Tuesday without him.

Luke Zeller started in Harangody's place and netted three points and pulled down eight rebounds. The Irish host South Dakota on Tuesday before playing Ohio State next Saturday in Indianapolis.

McAlarney had 39 points in the loss to North Carolina, and with his 32 today, he became the first Notre Dame player to scored 30 or more in two-straight games since Troy Murphy did it back in January of 2000.

"In the first half he was feeling it," Jackson said. "You have to do what you have to do and get him the ball, especially when he's hot. He made it easier for us so we didn't have to stress for our shots."

Afterwards, McAlarney wasn't stressing about the stitches in his mouth either.


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