Ohio State spoiled Luke Harangody's return to the Notre Dame lineup by beating the Irish 67-62 in The Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday.
Harangody, who missed Notre Dame's last two games with pneumonia, led the Irish with 25 points and had a game-high 16 rebounds but did not get enough help from his supporting cast against the Buckeyes.
"From pneumonia to that, he tried to will us to it," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said after the game to Jack Nolan in his postgame radio interview. "I'm proud of him, he had to do too much quite frankly."
Brey gave the Buckeyes credit for their defense.
"They really took McAlarney away," he said. "We moved him around to a lot of different spots to try to jumpstart him and we just could really never get him going."
No. 7 Notre Dame (6-2) controlled the game in the opening minutes, but Ohio State (5-0) grabbed the lead before the half and while the Irish fought to pull even, they were never able to do so in the second half.
Ohio State took a 30-28 lead into the locker room and came out fast after intermission. Turner scored 14 of Ohio State's first 22 points in the second half as the Buckeyes jumped out to a 52-43 advantage midway through the second frame.
The Buckeyes maintained that nine-point lead into the game's final minutes, holding a 60-51 advantage with 6:12 to play. The Irish went on a quick 5-0 run to cut the lead to four with 4:11 to play. Point guard Tory Jackson knocked down two clutch three-pointers in the final minutes, the second of which made the score 63-62 with 29 seconds left.
Turner made two free throws with 21 seconds to play to push the lead back to three and the Irish elected to go for the tie. But McAlarney's deep three-pointer was off the mark and Ohio State's Jeremie Simmons sank two free throws to seal the game.
The loss is just the second of the season for Notre Dame. The was in the Maui Invitational Championship against top-ranked North Carolina. It also denied Notre Dame its best win since the semifinal win over Texas in Hawaii.
"We're disappointed as a group that we didn't quite have the juice that we had in Maui," Brey said. "We did a good job of keeping the Texas bodies from shredding us, but these guys really got to the boards. They deserved it, they played well. It's a nice wakeup for my group, frankly in December."
Harangody scored the game's first six points and 10 in the first 10 minutes as the Irish hopped out to an early 15-10 lead.
Midway through the first half the Buckeyes went on a 7-0 burst in just 25 seconds to take a 17-15 lead. Mullens made a hoop followed by a steal and a David Lighty three-pointer followed by another steal and a Turner layup.
McAlarney knocked down his first shot of the game with 6:44 left in the half before Ayers drained a three-pointer to give the Irish a 22-19 lead.
Ohio State went on a 9-2 run that featured a three-pointer from Simmons and buckets from Turner, Buford and Mullens to give the Buckeyes a 30-26 advantage.
Harangody closed the half with a layup to make the score 30-28. Harangody led everyone with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but did not get much help from his teammates in the first half.
Ohio State's fullcourt zone press prevented the Irish from getting up the court as quickly as they would have liked, limiting the number of open shots. Jackson, Ayers and Luke Zeller had three points apiece in the first half while Zach Hillesland and McAlarney each had two. McAlarney made just 1 of 6 shots in the first half.
Buford led the Buckeyes with nine points and Turner added eight points and four boards.
Gonzaga beat Indiana 70-54 in the opening game of The Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase.