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12/6/2008 12:57 PM
Buckeyes battle Fighting Irish in Indy

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - The seventh-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Ohio State Buckeyes make the trip to Indianapolis to take part in The Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase, as they face one another at Lucas Oil Arena. This event is a doubleheader that benefits the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, with the other matchup being Indiana against Gonzaga.

The Irish are an impressive 6-1 on the season with the lone loss coming against top-ranked North Carolina in the championship game of the Maui Invitational. Since then, the team has posted two straight wins, with lopsided decisions against Furman (93-61) and most recently, South Dakota (102-76).

The Buckeyes are a perfect 4-0 on the young season and come into this game following an improbable 73-68 win at Miami on Tuesday as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

This is just the third meeting between these two teams in the last 36 years. OSU holds a narrow 6-5 edge in the series, but the Irish have won the last two meetings, including a 59-57 win in the 1999 Preseason NIT.

Unlike Notre Dame, which relies on superior offensive firepower, Ohio State is getting it done with stifling defensive pressure. The Buckeyes are limiting foes to a mere 47.2 ppg on the year, holding them to a meager .340 shooting, including .256 from behind the arc. Although not an offensive juggernaut, the Buckeyes are still enjoying a +18.5 scoring margin entering this contest. The scoring options aren't plentiful, so don't expect Thad Matta to let his team get in too many shootouts. Evan Turner represents the team's best offensive presence, averaging nearly 14 points per game (13.8). He also leads the team in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and steals (13). Jon Diebler provides aerial support with 12.8 ppg, thanks in large part to his 46.4 percent effort from long range. On Tuesday, Ohio State showed its mettle, coming back from a 14-point second half deficit to post a win over a good Miami team. The team certainly benefited from the ejection of Miami star Jack McClinton and rallied for the victory. Diebler led the way with 20 points, followed closely by Turner, who netted 19 points. David Lighty chipped in 11 points, as Ohio State shot a sizzling 54.8 percent over the final 20 minutes to earn the win.

The Irish played their second straight game without All-American candidate Luke Harangody in the lineup, but the team looked impressive nonetheless, routing South Dakota on Tuesday by 26 points. The team connected on a school- record 19 three-pointers, en route to the win. Ryan Ayers was responsible for nine of those treys, finishing with a career-high of 35 points. Kyle McAlarney hit seven three-pointers of his own and poured in 27 points in support. The Irish are averaging a gaudy 87.1 ppg this year, thanks to a steady .472 shooting from the floor, with a whopping 80 three-pointers in the first seven games. Harangody is one of the most dominant low post players in the country, averaging a double-double with 22.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. However, he has been sidelined with pneumonia and his return is not known. The team has plenty of offensive depth behind Harangody, led by McAlarney's 20.7 ppg. If Ayers (13.6 ppg) can continue to stroke it from behind the arc, this team will be extremely dangerous when Harangody returns to the lineup. Tory Jackson is tasked with running the offense, which he has done well, showing the ability to both score (12.6 ppg) and distribute the ball (6.3 apg).

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12/6/2008 12:57 PM
Basketball preview: No. 7 Notre Dame vs. Ohio State

INDIANAPOLIS—It remains to be seen Saturday in Indianapolis whether No. 7-rated Notre Dame (6-1) will have the services of All-American junior Luke Harangody when the Irish take on undefeated Ohio State (4-0) at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase.

Associated Press
Luke Harangody should return to action today.
Harangody, who has missed the last two games (vs. Furman and South Dakota) after coming down with pneumonia, practiced the last three days and was chomping at the bit to get back in the lineup.

Earlier in the week, however, Irish head coach Mike Brey promised that he would err on the side of caution with Harangody, who paces the Irish in scoring (22.6) and rebounding (11.2).

Helping ease the pain of playing without Harangody has been senior guard Kyle McAlarney, who has upped his average to 20.7 points per game, and senior swingman Ryan Ayers, who tossed in a career-high 35 points Tuesday night against South Dakota. Ayers’ nine three-pointers was nearly half of the team’s 19 successful shots from beyond the arc—a Notre Dame record.

McAlarney, who missed six of his first eight three-point attempts this season, has converted 37-of-68 three-pointers (54.4 percent) in his last five games.

Ayers joined Harangody and McAlarney in the 30-point club this season, which is the first time since the 1991-92 campaign that the Irish have had three 30-point scorers in the same season. LaPhonso Ellis, Elmer Bennett and Daimon Sweet did it 17 seasons ago.

The Irish are shooting 42.6 percent as a team from three-point range (8-of-188). They have averaged 16.0 three-pointers made over the last three games.

To reach victory total No. 7, the Irish will have their hands full against the well-coached Buckeyes, who upset Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., Tuesday night, 73-68. Ohio State also has defeated Delaware State (70-42), Bowling Green (61-57) and Samford (59-22).

Thad Matta, now in his fifth year in Columbus, has fashioned a 109-35 mark with the Buckeyes. He led Ohio State to the national championship game against Florida just two seasons ago, finishing with a sparkling 35-4 record.

Last year, as the Buckeyes rebuilt following the brief Greg Oden era, they won the NIT with a 24-13 record.

The Buckeyes are paced by sophomore guards Evan Turner (13.8 ppg., 7.3 rpg.) and Jon Diebler (12.8 ppg.). Their size—6-foot-7 and 6-foot-6 respectively—could give the Irish some problems in the backcourt.

Six-foot-five junior David Lighty (7.8 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) and 6-foot-8 sophomore Dallas Lauderdale (7.8 ppg., 4.8 rpg.) provide most of the scoring up front while 6-foot-2 junior guard Jeremie Simmons (7.8 ppg.) lends support in the backcourt.

Diebler has connected on 45.9 percent (13-of-28) of his three-point attempts while Simmons has made 8-of-20.

Seven-foot freshman B.J. Mullens (5.5 ppg., 4.0 rpg.) is the heir apparent to the Oden legacy.

The last time the Irish played Ohio State was Matt Doherty’s head coaching debut at Notre Dame on Nov. 16, 1999. David Graves’ buzzer beater gave the Irish a 59-57 victory.

Saturday’s game, which is part of a doubleheader that includes No. 5 Gonzaga vs. Indiana, is slated to tip off at 4 p.m. ET. They are the first collegiate basketball games at Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home of the Indianapolis Colts.

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12/6/2008 12:58 PM

Battling The Buckeyes

Assistant Editor

There’s a plaque that hangs conspicuously in the Notre Dame locker room that Mike Brey and his Irish are very proud of. The plaque was a reward from the NCAA after last season when the Irish led the nation in assists with 18.42 a game.

The accomplishment was terrific, and Brey has talked to his team a lot about how nice it would be to see his team repeat the feat. But there is another statistic that is more important to Brey, and one he would like to earn a plague for this season. And so far, his veteran team is off to a terrific start in landing it.

Assist-to-turnover ratio is a biggie for Brey, and his No. 7 Irish lead the nation with a 2-to-1 mark, heading into the game today against undefeated Ohio State.

No. 7 Notre Dame (6-1)
Vs. Ohio State (4-0)

The Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase

Today, 4 p.m.

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.


Line: Notre Dame by 4

“The assist to turnover is something I harp on even more (than assists),” Brey said. “I got on us a little bit early in our trip out west and in our exhibition games, that we should just a be a single-digit turnover team. With our experience and feel for the game, we shouldn’t be turning that thing over double digits.”

Through seven games, Notre Dame is averaging 20 assists a game and 10.1 turnovers. It’s rare for a team to get two assists for every turnover, but five Irish regulars already have at least 20 assists and no Notre Dame player has more turnovers than assists so far this season.

“They’ve got veterans. They understand each other, and it seems like they know when they’re penetrating where guys are going to be,” said Buckeye coach Thad Motta. “All the guys they put on the floor have an ability to pass and find the open man. I think the challenge for us is to try and distract as much as we can and know where guys are at all times, and they do a good job of moving so you have to space and be with them every step of the way.”

The great start in the assists/turnover game is notable because Notre Dame has already played two top 10 teams in Texas and North Carolina that swarm and pressure the ball as well as anyone in the country.

A third test comes today against the Buckeyes in the first game of a doubleheader at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Indiana and Gonzaga will follow in the first two basketball games ever to played at the Indy Colts new stadium, a site that will serve as a regional site for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Of course, the big story leading up to the game is the status of Irish forward Luke Harangody, who missed the last two games after contracting pneumonia while in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.

Brey said he prepared all week as if Harangody wasn’t going to play. Motta said he prepared as if Harangody would play. Judging by Brey’s tone and words this week, it’s doubtful Harangody will be on the floor.

“We’re kind of going on our preparation like we’re not going to have him,” Brey said Friday afternoon. “I think that’s how we have to prepare and how we have been preparing. If something jumps up and surprises us in the next 48 hours, then we’ll deal with it that way.”

Brey said Harangody’s condition continues to improve, but he wants to guard against any setbacks, so he is taking the cautious approach to his return, especially since Notre Dame has played well in the two games without their star forward, winning by 32 points and 26 points.

“They have done very well without him here in the last two games which I think speaks volumes to how good they can really be,” said Ohio State coach Thad Motta.

Harangody worked in the weight room and shot with the team some late this week, and Brey hoped to have his junior at practice in Indianapolis on Friday. Though, it still sounded like a minor miracle would have to take place for Harangody to suit up today.

So the Irish will likely move on without him against an Ohio State team that just pulled a road upset last week of No. 22 Miami, Florida.

“They’re growing up quickly,” Brey said of the Buckeyes.

As good as Notre Dame has been at protecting and moving the ball so far this season, Ohio State has been equally good at forcing teams into mistakes, bad decisions, and turnovers. Through games as of Nov. 30, Ohio State ranked in the top five nationally in several defensive categories, including scoring defense (40.4), field goal percentage defense (32.0) and blocked shots (8.7). The Buckeyes don’t make it easy.

“Against their press, we’re going to have to be good with (the ball),” Brey said. “I thought we did a good job against Texas, swarming man to man, and that’s similar, but Ohio State has turned people over. We’ve not played against a press for the whole game, a zone press. So this is a new challenge and something we need to work on.”

Irish senior Zach Hillesland said the experience of already playing Texas and North Carolina should help the Irish today.

“Those are two teams that really want to get up and pressure you,” he said. “Handling (Ohio State’s) press is something we’ll talk about and try to put some extra emphasis on, but so far this year, we’ve been really good with it, so I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be Saturday.”

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12/6/2008 9:20 PM
Buckeyes Make Statement With Big Win
Turner had 28 against Notre Dame.
Turner had 28 against Notre Dame.

Staff Writer
Posted Dec 6, 2008

Playing on a makeshift court at a neutral site, the Ohio State men's basketball team made some school history with a victory against No. 7 Notre Dame. The win improved the Buckeyes to 5-0 and gave them a second consecutive victory against a ranked foe.

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was a day for history at Lucas Oil Stadium.

On an afternoon when a number of basketball hall of famers were honored, an unranked Ohio State men’s basketball team made a little history of its own by earning a second consecutive victory against a ranked foe away from home.

This time, the stakes were higher but the outcome was the same. Four days after defeating No. 21 Miami (Fla.) on its home court, the Buckeyes (5-0) knocked off seventh-ranked Notre Dame (6-2) at the home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts by a 67-62 final as part of the Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase.

They did so in large part to the play of sophomore guard Evan Turner, who poured in a career-high 28 points and added 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

“We’re not going to let this win go to our heads,” Turner said. “We’re going to be hungry tomorrow and keep going out every day in practice and keep playing hard.”

Turner scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half as the Buckeyes increased a two-point halftime lead to 10 points and then saw it whittled down to one before emerging for the victory.

Facing OSU’s swarming zone defense, the Irish got two three-pointers from junior guard Tory Jackson that made it 63-62 Buckeyes with 26.2 seconds remaining. OSU inbounded the basketball and it found its way into Turner’s hands, and he was sent to the free-throw line with 21.6 ticks left.

He calmly swished both from the charity stripe, and the Buckeyes had a three-point lead that was secured when Notre Dame’s Kyle McAlarney’s attempt with 11.0 seconds left rimmed out. Two free throws from junior guard Jeremie Simmons set the final margin.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve loved their togetherness and the work ethic that they’ve put in,” OSU head coach Thad Matta said. “They’re enjoyable to bring to practice. They bring the right frame of mind to practice.

“There’s some bonding, and that’s something we’ve been on since last season ended.”

After a slow offensive start for the second consecutive game, the Buckeyes righted the ship and battled their way back into the game thanks in large part to their defensive pressure.

The Irish were buoyed by the return of junior forward Luke Harangody, the reigning Big East player of the year. After missing the last two games while battling pneumonia, Harangody earned the surprise start and did not waste much time making an impact by scoring his team’s first six points. With the score 13-10 in favor of the Irish, Harangody had personally scored as many points as the Buckeyes.

He finished with a team-high 25 points and 16 rebounds, but it was not enough to propel the Irish to victory.

“He’s the Big East player of the year – I expected him to play,” OSU sophomore center Dallas Lauderdale said. “He played well today. He played great. We practiced like he was playing. We didn’t not expect him to play.”

Matta admitted after the game that he knew Harangody was going to get his, but Lauderdale made more than a few highlight-worthy plays of his own. He finished with six points, five boards and six blocks.

Using a two-big-man lineup for the second time this season with freshman B.J. Mullens and Lauderdale on the court at the same time did not take long to pay off. With OSU ahead 28-26 with 56 seconds remaining in the first half, Lauderdale blocked Harangody for the third time in the first 20 minutes.

The block sprung an OSU fast break the other way that was capitalized by Mullens, who laid in a fast-break basket to push the OSU lead to four points.

Harangody would exact some revenge two possessions later, as he stole the ball from Turner as he looked to Matta for directions and then scored to set the halftime score at 30-28 in favor of the Buckeyes.

Mullens finished with 11 points in the first double-digit scoring performance of his OSU career, but the story of the game for the Buckeyes was Turner. Five of Turner’s rebounds came on offense, and two came on consecutive second-half possessions – the first an impressive leap that allowed him to corral the ball and feed it to Mullens for an easy basket, and the second a rebound he kept for himself and put in the basket.

He also played a direct role in the Buckeyes taking their first lead of the game with back-to-back steals. The first led to a David Lighty three-pointer, and the second resulted in a Turner basket that made it 17-15 Buckeyes and forced Notre Dame to call a timeout.

To open the second half, he scored OSU’s first eight points and 10 of its first 12 to help the Buckeyes to a 42-37 lead.

“I thought that he made big plays,” Matta said. “He was under control. Our guys did a pretty good job of giving him some space, and he went out and got some balls. He got his hands on a lot of balls as well.”

The win figures to put the Buckeyes back into the national rankings for the first time since they finished the 2006-07 regular season ranked as the No. 1 team in the country.

“It’s always nice to have that number with your school name,” Turner said. “I think we deserve to be ranked, but if we’re ranked or not it doesn’t take away from how we’re going to develop as a team and it’s not going to change our focus of getting better every single day.”

New Post
12/6/2008 9:20 PM
MBK: Evan Turner Leads Ohio State in Win Over Seventh-Ranked Notre Dame, 67-62
Courtesy: OhioStateBuckeyes.com
          Release: 12/06/2008
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Thad Matta Postgame

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Evan Turner scored a career-high 28 points Saturday and Ohio State spoiled Luke Harangody's return to the lineup with a 67-62 victory over No. 7 Notre Dame, the unbeaten Buckeyes' second straight upset of a ranked opponent.

Harangody, the Big East player of the year last season, missed the past two games with pneumonia. He led Notre Dame (6-2) with 25 points and 16 rebounds, but Ohio State (5-0) took a 30-28 lead at halftime and built the margin to as many as 10 points in the second half.

A 3-pointer by Tory Jackson pulled Notre Dame within 63-62 with 26 seconds to go, but Turner and Jeremie Simmons hit two free throws each in the closing seconds.

Freshman B.J. Mullens added a season-high 11 points for the Buckeyes, who were coming off a 73-68 upset at No. 21 Miami. Jackson added 13 points for the Irish.

Harangody, a preseason All-America this year, lost 12 pounds during his illness and returned home to Schererville, Ind., during his recovery last week. He rejoined the Irish for practice on Thursday and was back in his familiar spot in the lineup for tip-off on Saturday in the second game of the Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase doubleheader at the new Lucas Oil Stadium.

Following No. 5 Gonzaga's 70-54 victory over Indiana in the first game, Harangody got the Irish off to a quick start against the unranked Buckeyes.

Harangody had two baskets, two free throws and four rebounds during an 8-2 start for Notre Dame, but the Irish couldn't hold the lead. A basket by Mullens, a 3-pointer by David Lighty and a steal and layup by Turner gave Ohio State its first lead at 17-15.

There were two more lead changes and three more ties before a basket by William Buford and a fast-break layup by Mullens gave Ohio State its biggest lead of the half, 30-26. The Buckeyes had a chance to widen the lead in the closing seconds of the period, but Harangody stole the ball and hit a layup to cut the halftime lead to two.

Kyle McAlarney, who averaged 32.7 points over the past three games, was 1-of-6 from the field and had two points and only Harangody had more than three points for the Irish in the first half.

A basket by McAlarney pulled the Irish within 38-37 early in the second half, but Ohio State steadily pulled away and took a a 58-48 lead after two free throws by Turner and a blocked shot and fast-break layup by Lighty.

A 3-pointer by Jackson brought Notre Dame within 61-59, and the Irish had a chance to tie, but Harangody missed three shots over the next two minutes and the Buckeyes held on for the win.

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