#8 Notre Dame Beats DePaul, Wins Battle of Chicago Big East Teams

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It’s been ten days since Notre Dame last played a college basketball game. And it was big; the biggest one in Mike Brey’s career. The Fighting Irish defeated then #2 Pittsburgh at their building, to assume second place (tied with Louisville) in the toughest conference in the nation.

Aside from a couple missed dunks here, and a blown chippy there, the Irish did not look rusty at all in their visit to All State Arena. A let down at DePaul? Wasn’t going to happen for ND, as the Irish pulled away from the Blue Demons well before halftime.

DePaul trailed just 24-20 at the 7:31 mark, but soon found themselves down 37-24 at intermission. The second half was all ND, as the Irish increased their lead in the all time series to 58-44, 7-2 since both of teams joined the Big East. ND cruised to an 83-57 victory; their seventh straight over the Demons.

By Paul M. Banks

Ben Hansbrough Notre Dame

“The layoff helped us, we got energized. Our energy was great in practice this week, and I thought our energy was great here. We were happy to compete, we haven’t competed in awhile,” said Brey.

“I felt we controlled tempo and defended when we needed. And we handled their pressure well when they tried to rev us.”

Even though the Irish weren’t their sharpest, they still led the entire way and were never really in trouble at any point of this de facto “Catholic Invitational” game. The Irish hit their threes, and DePaul did not. The biggest positive you could say about Oliver Purnell’s squad is that they once again got open shots, but unfortunately (once again) just couldn’t connect on them.

Going forward, the belief is that under Purnell’s system DePaul will improve significantly- once they acquire more true scorers and better shooters to make those open looks. For now, the Big East losing streak stands at 22, and they’re 1-44 in their last 45 conference games (excluding BE Tournament games). That doesn’t look like it will change much, if at all, this season.

But they do have a couple decent freshmen to build around in their top two scorers, Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin.

The Irish, led by Scott Martin (15 points, 7 rebounds) and Ben Hansbrough (24 points, five 3s), look like a genuine #2 seed come March. One of the more annoying, and inaccurate heckles the DU student section came up with tonight was “one and done,” as they kept telling themselves that the Irish will be a first round out. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“One of the things we wanted to do was come out and set the tone, leave it all on the court, threw the first punches, and continued to do so throughout the entire game,” said Ben Hansbrough.

“He’s a tough player, he can knock down the three, dribble, create a shot for himself,” Brandon Young said of guarding Ben Hansbrough.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com

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