First Big Test
Indianapolis,In - After easy non-conference wins at home, Notre Dame could face its biggest test without All-American Luke Harangody.
With Harangody still recovering from pneumonia, the seventh-ranked Irish (6-1) will take on unbeaten Ohio State in Saturday's Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase in Indianapolis.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Notre Dame -1.5 point spread favorites (NCAAB Odds) for today's game (View Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on Notre Dame –1.5 (View NCAAB Bet Percentages).
After scoring a season-low 13 points in a Nov. 26 loss to top-ranked North Carolina, the junior forward has missed victories over Furman - 93-61 on Sunday - and South Dakota - 102-76 Tuesday.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Harangody is "day to day," and he will remain careful in putting the reigning Big East player of the year back into play. Harangody shot baskets and lifted weights Wednesday and went through a shooting drill Thursday.
"You don't rule out anything, but I'm going to be really cautious," Brey said. "He's chomping at the bit, and we're going to be really smart about this thing. We're not going to do anything crazy Saturday if it's not a healthy situation."
In Tuesday's game, the Irish set a school record with 19 3-pointers. Ryan Ayers tied a school record with nine 3s as part of his 35 points after scoring what had been a career-high 19 against Furman.
"We got a lot of really good looks. We got into a great rhythm early," Brey said. "I certainly love our unselfishness. I love the aggressiveness of Ryan Ayers. ... We don't want him turning down shots."
Kyle McAlarney continued his strong play, scoring 27 points and sinking seven 3-pointers. In the past three games, he has averaged 32.7 points and hit 26 of his 48 shots from behind the arc.
The senior guard has scored 20.7 points per game and shot 51.3 percent from 3-point range. Harangody still leads the team with 22.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.
Averaging 87.1 points, Notre Dame comes into Saturday as one of the nation's top offensive squads. The Irish are among the best from behind the arc at 42.6 percent.
They'll be facing an Ohio State team which ranks second nationally in scoring defense, giving up 47.3 points per game.
The Buckeyes (4-0) gave up a season high in points on Tuesday in their first game against a ranked opponent, but rallied from a 14-point deficit for a 73-68 win at No. 21 Miami.
It was the most points scored this season by the Buckeyes, who average 65.8 per game. The Buckeyes went 1-for-8 to start Tuesday's game and fell behind 16-4 after 8 1/2 minutes, but ended up shooting 41.7 percent from the field.
"The big thing in the first half is we couldn't hit a shot," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "We finally made some shots, and it helped our defense."
Still, the key to Matta's team is defense. The Buckeyes have forced 17.8 turnovers per game, including 18 from the Hurricanes, and have held opponents to 34.0 percent from the field.
Jon Diebler scored a career-high 20 points and Evan Turner added 19 on Tuesday. The two players are the team's leading scorers with Turner averaging 13.8 points and Diebler 12.8.
Notre Dame has not faced Ohio State since Nov. 16, 1999, when the Irish knocked off the then-No. 4 Buckeyes 59-57 in Columbus. Ohio State leads the all-time series 6-5.
Saturday's Showcase will mark the first college basketball games at Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the 2009 NCAA tournament's South Regional. Fifth-ranked Gonzaga and Indiana play in the Showcase opener.
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Posted: 12/6/08 12:55 AM ET