Notre Dame Seals Win Over Kansas State

By Jerry Palm - December 04, 2007

NEW YORK -- Notre Dame used a very effective inside-outside game to defeat Kansas State, 68-59, in the opener of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Luke Harangody softened up the inside of the Wildcats' defense in the first half. He torched KSU for 15 points and 10 boards, including 11 of the first 13 the Fighting Irish scored. Kansas State tried different guys on him, but the task was mostly left to superstar freshman Michael Beasley. He wasn't up to the physical challenge the 6-foot-8, 250-pound Harangody brought in the first half and allowed him to finish with 19 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

Afterward, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey felt that Harangody set the tone for the entire team.

"I think he gives us confidence," he said. "If he can get us started, the rest of the guys start to feel like this is our night."

Brey also thinks that while the points and rebounds are nice, the area he has improved on the most is his passing.

"This year, he's starting to hit open people better than he did last year," the Notre Dame coach said of Harangody. "He's doing a much better job of passing out of the double-teams."

In the second half, the defense collapsed on the big guy, and Harangody and his teammates started to find Kyle McAlarney on the outside. McAlarney scored 14 second-half points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a key three-pointer that extended the Irish lead to five with about a minute left.

It was a homecoming for McAlarney in a couple of ways. He is from Staten Island, so he was playing in his old stomping grounds, but it was also a homecoming in the sense of returning to the team. McAlarney was suspended from the team in the middle of last season and missed all of conference play. He had scored over 20 points in each of the last three games, but this was a better opponent, on a bigger stage and in his back yard.

"I'm happy with how maturely he handled the possible distractions of coming back home," Brey said. "I thought he handled them like a man."

About working his way back into the rhythm of the team, he said, "I think this gives him something to build on. He knows he missed the Big East run. That was a void in his life, but I think this [performance] heals some wounds."

This is the kind of win that could help Notre Dame's tournament chances later on. However, it's too early to say how either team will turn out. The potential tournament implications aren't lost on Brey, but he's not too worried about that yet.

"We get so caught up in RPI and math and good wins, and I think this is a good win, but just winning a game against a good team on this stage, when the lights are very bright and there's game pressure, I think that's more important. Sometimes we focus too much on the math and forget about the process."

Posted by Jerry Palm at 10:15 PM on December 04, 2007

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