Irish Rewind: Notre Dame makes most of NCAA return
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A return of David Graves to the starting lineup and Matt Carroll's rekindled outside touch Friday nudged Notre Dame back to its winning ways when it really mattered.
The Irish placed four players in double figures. Carroll's 21 led, followed by 20 from Graves and 19 from Troy Murphy in an 83-71 victory over No. 11 Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday evening, and early Saturday morning, at Kemper Arena.
Ryan Humphrey added 15 points including several rim-rattling dunks in his return to the town where he spent his summers playing AAU ball.
Notre Dame enjoyed a lead over the final 31 minutes. The Irish move on with an NCAA Tournament win for the first time in 12 years. The Irish face Mississippi on Sunday at approximately 5 p.m. South Bend time. The Rebels beat Iona, 72-70, in the first game of Friday's evening session.
"It's a great win for our program," said head coach Mike Brey. "It's been a while since we've been here."
Notre Dame shot a sizzling 63.3 percent from the floor, including 70 percent (14-for-20) in the second half. The Irish also forced seven steals while Xavier committed 14 turnovers.
"We can shoot the ball," Brey said. "We really played great team defense."
David West led Xavier with 19 points while Lionel Chalmers added 14 off the bench.
The victory improves Notre Dame to 20-9 and marks the second consecutive postseason the Irish have beaten the Musketeers to secure win No. 20. Xavier (21-8) wanders home having lost its final three games.
Notre Dame has won 15 of 18, 12 of the last 13 and four in row over the Musketeers.
On the trip back from last week's quarterfinals loss to Pittsburgh in the Big East Tournament, Brey decided that it was time for a subtle lineup change.
For the first time since the Jan. 13 game at Kentucky -- a span of 14 games -- Graves was inserted into the top five in place of classmate and close friend Harold Swanagan. Brey made the move in hopes of bringing more of an offensive burst to the Irish, who had scored a season low 54 points in the loss to Pittsburgh eight days prior.
"It had kind of run its course," Brey said of starting Swanagan, which had allowed opposing defenses to concentrate on doubling Murphy. "I think we needed something fresh."
It worked. Graves scored 11 of the first 19 Irish points as Notre Dame put this one away long before Saint Patrick's Day officially arrived.
Notre Dame was 10-4, including eight consecutive victories, with Swanagan in the lineup. But the Irish had entered March Madness having lost three in a row and four of the last six.
"It was a new look," Graves said. "Hopefully we'll come out with another win streak."
Carroll played all 40 minutes while hitting 9-of-11 from the floor with six rebounds and a pair of assists.
"Matty and Dave really stepped us and had a big game for us," said point guard Martin Ingelsby.
After some early drama, this one was seldom in doubt thanks to Notre Dame's attention to detail on the defensive end and icy Xavier shooting, eventually 3-for-20 (15 percent) from 3-point range.
The largest Irish lead peaked at 17 when Murphy hit a 3 to open the second half. It gave the Irish a 43-26 cushion. Another Carroll 3 midway through the half matched the 17-point lead at 55-38.
Carroll and Graves sparked Notre Dame in the first half. Graves didn't miss in five attempts to post 13 points the first 20 minutes. A year ago in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament, Graves torched the Musketeers for 21 before going for only three the second half.
Struggling the past three weeks from the field, Carroll connected on all four of his shots to post nine points in the first half. Settling mainly for outside shots, Murphy was 3-for-10 from the field.
After shooting 39 percent or below the previous three games, Notre Dame opened by going 17-for-29 (58.6 percent) the first half. The Irish also grabbed 18 rebounds toXavier's 14, another sore spot the past 20 days for Notre Dame, which had been out-rebounded by an average of 15 the last three games.
The Irish finished with eight assists in the first half, one more than their entire output eight days earlier against Pittsburgh. Ingelsby's five first-half helpers moved the senior co-captain past Elmer Bennett and into third on the school's all-time assist chart with 517. Ingelsby finished with nine assists.
Notre Dame twice built first-half leads of 13 points, its best 20 minutes of basketball in nearly three weeks since the Feb. 24 West Division clincher in Blacksburg, Va.
Following yet another defensive stop where the Irish were active under their own basket, Notre Dame set up for the final shot with 32.4 seconds before intermission.
With the clock winding to five seconds, Carroll hit a 15-foot jumper near the top of the key to push the Irish margin to 40-26 as the half-time horn sounded. It was the fewest amount of points the Irish have allowed in the first half since giving Rutgers 25 on Feb. 14.
Each time Xavier tried to get going, Notre Dame had an answer.
West, the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year, helped shave Notre Dame's lead to seven with his second basket at the 1:25 mark. West was 2-for-6 from the floor in the first half and played only 12 minutes while picking up two quick fouls.
Carroll answered West's hoop when he returned downcourt and drained a 3-pointer from the left wing before another Irish defensive stop produced a pretty fastbreak. Streaking down the low, Swanagan took a sweet slip from Ingelsby and tossed in a lay-up. Just like that, the Irish margin was back over double digits.
Notre Dame actually showed some troubling signs early on. Following a Graves 3 to open the game, the Irish missed their next five shots with three turnovers before the under-16 minute time-out. Once settled in, the Irish connected on six of their next eight in a span of 4:42 to go up by four.
Staff writer Tom Noie:
NOTRE DAME 83, XAVIER 71
min fg ft rb pf tp
26 Kevin Frey 3-8 0-0 6 2 6
28 David West 8-14 3-4 8 3 19
29 Lloyd Price 5-9 3-6 6 4 13
30 Romain Sato 2-8 0-2 8 3 6
35 Maurice McAfee 4-11 1-1 1 4 9
24 Lionel Chalmers 5-14 3-4 2 2 14
12 David Young 1-6 0-2 1 5 2
1 Brandon McIntosh0-0 0-0 0 0 0
1 Alvin Brown 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
14 Reggie Butlerl 1-2 0-0 1 0 2
TOTALS 29-72 10-17 37 23 71
3-point fg-fga included in totals above: Sato 2-7, Chalmers 1-6, Frey 0-1, Price 0-1, Young 0-2, McAfee 0-3, . TOTALS: 3-20.
NOTRE DAME (83)
min fg ft rb pf tp
39 Troy Murphy 6-17 6-6 8 3 19
33 Ryan Humphrey 6-8 3-8 6 4 15
38 David Graves 7-7 4-6 2 2 20
40 Matt Carroll 9-11 1-2 6 2 21
39 Martin Ingelsby 2-3 2-2 5 1 6
3 Torrian Jones 0-2 2-2 0 0 0
8 Harold Swanagan 1-1 0-0 1 4 2
TOTALS 31-49 16-24 31 16 83
3-point fg-fga included in totals above: Graves 2-2, Carroll 2-3, Murphy 1-5, Ingelsby 0-1, Jones 0-1. TOTALS: 5-12.
Halftime score: Notre Dame 40, Xavier 26.
Shooting: Xavier 29-72 (40.3 percent), Notre Dame 31-49 (63.3 percent),
Assists: Xavier 8 (McAfee 3). Notre Dame 19 (Ingelsby 9).
Turnovers: Xavier 14 (McAfee 4). Notre Dame 17 (Carroll 5).
Technical foul: Murphy.
Officials: Kerry Sitton, Lonnie Dixon and Ray Natili.
Each week during the college basketball season, NDI takes a look back at a memorable Irish game with a reprint of the story that appeared in the South Bend Tribune.
This week's Irish Rewind appeared in the March 17, 2001 edition following Notre Dame's 83-71 victory over Xavier in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It was Notre Dame's first NCAA win since 1989, and the first Irish trip to March Madness since 1990.
If you have a suggestion for Irish Rewind, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.