The 87 to 77 Irish win was played under conditions tailor-made for the high-scoring home team: up-tempo; freewheeling, full of semi-contested looks from the perimeter…defense optional.
"They played very confidently, coming off their win (Wednesday vs. Marquette); shot it confidently, and it was one of those games where we could never really get away from them," Irish head coach Mike Brey observed.
"I thought we were amazingly efficient offensively to hold them off."
Brey was on-point with his observation of the Irish offensive machine as the team played nearly 30 minutes before committing its first turnover while finishing with 22 assists and just two mistakes on the contest.
"I don't think I've ever seen a team with 22 assists and two turnovers on the stat sheet in all my years. I think we lead the nation anyway (in assist-to-turnover ratio), but that is staggering and I told our team that after the game."
Notre Dame owns an NCAA best 1.71 assist-to-turnover ratio and bettered that differential today, having now combined for 371 assists vs. 206 turnovers in 20 games this season.
The Irish led from the outset, jumping to leads of 7-0, 25-17, and 34-21 before taking a 37-27 lead into the break.
"You want to say its not how you start its how you finish but we didn't get off to a really good start today," offered Blue Demons interim head coach Tracy Webster. "Transition (defense), something that we thought we had under control they did a good job of getting easy baskets early."
Junior forward Tim Abromaitis continued his torrid pace inside the Purcell Pavilion, leading the Irish with 30 points and adding 6 rebounds in 33 minutes.
The effort was the juniors second 30-point outing of the season (and career) and ranks as the high-water mark for Abromaitis in conference play. The economical Abro attempted just 16 shots (hitting 9) while knocking down 5 of 9 from long range and 7-8 from the charity stripe.
"It's beautiful to watch. You have a confident, comfortable guy in (terms of) how we play," Brey stated of his junior scorer. "Again, he's not a freshman. People will say ‘Well where has this guy been?'
"Well he's been in college for two years before we asked him to do this in our system…so this is a little bit part of the process. That he's been able to do this over-and-over again…that's been the impressive thing."
Notre Dame led by double digits throughout, though DePaul cut the Irish lead to six, 77-71 with a Mike Stovall 3-point bucket at the 1:10 mark, but Notre Dame broke the Blue Demons full-court press after a timeout and senior Luke Harangody sent the visitors back into scramble mode with an alley-oop dunk courtesy of Abromaitis and a pair of free throws to stretch the lead back to 10, 81-71 with under 45 seconds remaining.
The Irish sealed the game making six consecutive free throws in the final 41 seconds.
In Good HandsNotre Dame's senior guard duo of Tory Jackson and Ben Hansbrough combined for 14 assists with just one turnover. The pair entered the contest ranked No. 2 (Jackson) and No. 3 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, trailing only Duke senior Jon Scheyer in the category.
Hansbrough fell three assists shy of the program's second all-time triple-double, but his 15 points/10-rebound/7-assist effort marked the second double-double of his Irish career.
Junior forward Tyrone Nash bounced back from consecutive sub par efforts in losses last week to Cincinnati and Syracuse with his first career double-double, tying his career-high with 13 points while securing 11 boards.
"It was about that time where I needed to get back on-track," Nash admitted. "My teammates needed me and Coach has been on me all week to relax. So I just relaxed and had fun and it made it easier today."
The 100th meeting between the teams (Notre Dame leads the series 56-44 with Saturday's win) offered little defensive resistance as both teams converted in the paint (48 combined points).
"We scored 50 points in the second half. We want to take something from that and continue to build on it," Webster added.
Senior guard Will Walker led all scorers with 35 points, hitting 15 of 30 shots (4-13 from beyond the arc) while playing all 40 minutes. Sophomore forward Devin Hill contributed 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots before fouling out late in the contest.
No Points, No Sweat?Notre Dame's three-man bench brigade of Jonathan Peoples (14 minutes), Carleton Scott (8 minutes) and Joey Brooks (two first half minutes) did not score and combined for just one point, assist, and steal though Brooks made a nice defensive play to secure a jump ball in help defense to end the first half.
DePaul received 17 points off the pine, a margin that doesn't bother Brey in the least.
"Most overrated stat in the history of basketball, bench scoring" Brey responded when asked about the game – and largely the season's – point differential between the Irish and opponent's reserves.
"Its one of those things, they have graphics on TV now so they (illustrate) bench scoring. I think it's really overrated. If I have three guys that can get 30 they're starting and playing 38 minutes. It's really simple."
Movin' On UpAfter a quiet first half (six points on seven attempts), senior All America candidate Luke Harangody came alive, finishing with 24 points (8-20) and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes.
With his first rebound of the contest, Harangody moved into a tie for fourth-place on the Big East's all-time list, passing former Providence four-year starter Geoff McDermont (2005-09) and tying former Boston College big man Danya Abrams (1993-97).
Harangody needs 93 boards in his next 12-plus contests to pass former Syracuse star Derrick Coleman for the Big East record (Notre Dame will play at least one Big East Tournament game in addition to their 11 remaining regular season contests). Harangody also moved into second-place on Notre Dame's career list, passing Walt Sahm (1962-65) and needs 172 by season's end to take over the top spot from Irish great Tom Hawkins (1956-59).
The contest vs. DePaul marked the 61st double-double of Harangody's Irish career (a program record).
Of NoteNotre Dame will donate the full gate receipts and net concession revenue from today's contest with DePaul and Sunday's women's game vs. West Virginia to the relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti.
Additionally, the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) organized a fund drive to be held in conjunction with both game to encourage fans and alumni to make personal contributions to aid the relief efforts.
During the first half of today's game (and tomorrow's vs. the Mountaineers), more than 100 Irish student-athletes wearing monogram jackets collected donations from the crowd with all funds collected going toward the Notre Dame Haiti Program, the Congregation of Holy Cross and Catholic Relief Services.