Tory Jackson and the Irish earn first round bye in the 2007 BIG EAST Men's Basketball Championship.

2007 BIG EAST Men's Basketball Championship

March 5, 2007

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Irish In The BIG EAST Tournament:
Notre Dame (23-6, 11-5) earned a first-round bye in the 2007 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Championship and will play the winner of the first round game between No. 5 Syracuse (21-9, 10-6) and Connecticut (17-13, 6-10) in quarterfinal action. The Irish played in the quarterfinal round on four other occasions. Notre Dame closed out the regular season by winning it last five BIG EAST games. It’s the second-longest conference win streak for an Irish team since the 2000-01 campaign when that squad won eight straight games (the most in school history). Notre Dame has earned a first-round by for the third time in seven seasons (the other byes came in ’01 and ’02.).

The Irish earned their 23rd regular-season victory on Saturday as it closed out the season with a 73-66 win over Rutgers. The 23 wins marks the most regular-season wins for an Irish team under head coach Mike Brey and are the most since the 1985-86 campaign when that team finished with 23 victories. The most wins ever for an Irish team under Brey is 24 (2002-03). Notre Dame has registered four 20-win seasons in seven campaigns under Brey and four 10-win seasons in conference play. Notre Dame has four more conference wins than it did a year ago after it finished with a 6-10 league mark in 2005-06.

The Irish also have seven more wins (23) after ending the ’05-’06 campaign with a 16-14 record. Earlier this year, Notre Dame’s 15-2 start was the best for an Irish team since the 1978-79 season when that squad began the year with a 17-2 record. Notre Dame is 4-0 versus ranked opponents in 2006-07 – two more victories than a year ago when that squad posted a 1-7 record versus ranked foes. Notre Dame is averaging 81.3 points per game (eighth in the nation) and have topped the 90-point mark nine times and scored 80-plus points on 17 occasions.

Back In the BIG EAST Apple:
Notre Dame is playing in the BIG EAST Championship at Madison Square Garden for the 12th straight year. The Irish have never missed the BIG EAST Tournament.

Elite Company:
Notre Dame’s win against Providence on Feb. 15 marked the 1,600th in the program’s 102-year history with 1,600 wins. Only 12 other schools have reached the mark: Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, Temple, St. John’s, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Utah and UCLA.

Fourth 20-Win Season Under Brey:
Notre Dame’s 76-64 over Cincinnati on Feb. 18 gave Notre Dame its 20th win of the season and marked the fourth time under head coach Mike Brey that the Irish have won 20 or more games. Notre Dame’s last 20-win campaign was in 2002-03 when that Irish squad finished with a 24-10 record (the third season for Brey at Notre Dame). The Irish also reached the 20-win plateau in 2000-01 (20-10) and 2001-02 (22-11). In the 102-year history of the program, Notre Dame teams have won 20 or more games on 31 occasions. The 23 wins are the second-most in the Brey era.

A New Single-Season Home Record:
Notre Dame’s victory against Marquette improved the Irish to 18-0 at the Joyce Center this season. The 18 home victories are a Joyce Center single-season record. The previous record was 16 Irish which was done on four other occasions – 1976-77 (16-1), 1980-81 (16-1), 1982-83 (16-3) and 1999-00 (16-4).

Unblemished At Home:
Notre Dame’s 18-0 record at home this season marked the just the third time time since the opening of the Joyce Center in 1968-69 that an Irish team has finished undefeated at home during the regular season. Only two Notre Dame squads have ever completed a season undefeated at home – the 1973-74 and 1985-86 squads both finished their campaigns with identical 15-0 records. The Irish were the only BIG EAST without a loss in a home game this season. Dating back to last season, Notre Dame has won 20 consecutive games at home – a streak which is tied for sixth among all Division I teams and is the the third longest in school history as well as the longest during Mike Brey’s tenure.

What A Difference A Year Makes:
With its 11-5 record in BIG EAST play, Notre Dame’s win total is five more than all of last season as that Irish team finished the 2005-06 conference regular season with a 6-10 record after beginning league play 1-8. Notre Dame’s 23 wins thus far in 2006-07 already are seven more than all of last season.

Notre Dame’s victory over Marquette on Feb. 24 was the 100th for the Irish in BIG EAST regular-season play. Since becoming a league member at the start of the Notre Dame is 101-99 all-time in conference regular-season action. Irish teams have averaged 8.4 wins in their 12 seasons and 9.3 wins during head coach Mike Brey’s tenure.

Most Regular Season Wins:
Notre Dame’s 23 regular-season victories are the most for an Irish team under head coach Mike Brey and the most regualr-season wins since the 1985-86 campaign (that team also had 23 before losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament).

Record Holder:
Colin Falls became Notre Dame’s career three-point leader against Cincinnati on Feb. 18 as he connected on five three-point field goals. He eclipsed the career mark of 302 formerly held by Chris Thomas. In 118 career outings he has 318 three-pointers for an average of 2.7 per game. Thomas (2001-05) averaged 2.4 per game in 128 career outings.

Record Holder II:
Colin Falls became the BIG EAST Conference’s career three-point leader against Marquette and finished his career with 189 in 64 career league outings. The previous marks of 183 was held by Gerry McNamara (2002-06) of Syracuse.

Diaper Dandies:
For the second time this season, freshmen Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson produced career-best performances and led the Irish in scoring. Against Marquette on Feb. 24, Harangody registered his sixth double-double of the season as he netted a career-high 22 points (the second 20-plus point outing of his career) and matched his personal best with 13 rebounds. He was named the National Freshman of the Week by and also was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll. Jackson copped BIG EAST rookie-of-the-week honors after scoring a career-high 21 points (the first 20-plus point outing of his career), in addition to grabbing seven rebounds and dishing off seven assists while playing all 40 minutes of the contest.

Carter, Falls Garner NABC Honors:
Senior captains Russell Carter and Colin Falls were named to the all-District 10 team by the National Association of Basketball Association (NABC). Carter was a first-team honoree, while Falls earned second-team accolades.

A Record-Setting Night At The Carrier Dome:
Notre Dame’s 103-91 victory over Syracuse produced some record-setting numbers for the Irish …

  • The 103 points were the most-ever scored by an opponent at the Carrier Dome and first time in 10 years that an opponent had scored 100-plus points in that building.
  • It was the most points scored by any team in the 37 games of the series. The previous high was 101 by Notre Dame in a 101-98 victory at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 15, 1992.
  • The 61 first-half points were the most scored by an Irish team were the most scored in the first half of a BIG EAST game (one shy of the conference record)
  • The 61 points also were the most in a half by an Irish team in a regulation game since scoring 64 (in the second half) against Virginia Tech on Feb. 22, 2003.
  • All five starters scored in double figures for the first time since Jan. 11, 2006 vs. Syracuse at the Joyce Center.
  • Notre Dame did not score a field goal in the final 10:51 of the contest and scored its final 24 points of the game from the free-throw line.
  • In addition to scoring 61 first-half points, Notre Dame shot 55.8 percent (24-43) in the first half, was 10-17 from three-point range (.588), dished off 17 assists and turned the ball over just twice.

Young Guns:
Freshmen Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson were Notre Dame’s leading scorers against Syracuse in the victory on Jan. 30 as both scored career-highs with Harangody netting 21 points and grabbing a career and game-high 13 rebounds, while Jackson finished with a personal best 19 points. Ironically, the 19 points came on the day of his 19th birthday. The last time Notre Dame was led by two freshmen in scoring was on Feb. 24, 1999 in a 73-53 loss to St. John’s as Troy Murphy and David Graves scored 22 and 11 points, respectively.

Joyce Center Streakin’:
Notre Dame’s 85-73 victory against Marquette on Feb. 24 improved it’s current home record to 18-0 and extended their current Joyce Center win streak to 20 games – the third-longest home court win streak since its opening in 1968-69. It also is the longest home win streak during head coach Mike Brey’s tenure. The 18 wins are a Joyce Center single-season record. Here’s a look at the Joyce Center streaks …

24 – Began with a 94-68 win over Xavier on 2/3/73 and ended with a 94-84 loss to Indiana on 12/11/74
22 – Began with an 88-68 win over Pittsburgh on 1/26/77 and ended with a 69-68 overtime loss to DePaul on 2/12/78
20 – Began with a 66-61 win over DePaul on 3/4/06
16 – Began with a 92-70 win over Fairfield on 12/9/82 and ended with a 51-47 loss to UCLA on 12/3/83
16 – Began with an 89-76 win over West Virginia on 2/20/02 and ended with an 87-79 loss to Connecticut on 2/24/03

BIG EAST Road Woes:
Notre Dame found life on the road in the BIG EAST to be somewhat difficult this season and were 3-5 in eight conference road outings. The Irish were, however, victorious in their final two road games against Cincinnati and Rutgers. During the conference season, Notre Dame suffered double-digit losses to Georgetown (66-48) and Villanova (102-87), while also dropping a three-point decision (71-68) to St. John’s and a six-point setback (69-63) to South Florida. In the Georgetown, St. John’s and South Florida contests, Notre Dame shot below 40.0 percent.

Georgetown: Fell behind 21-4 and trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half and 29 in the second half … Shot just 30.8 percent from the field (16-32), while the Hoyas connected on 56.8 percent (25-44).

Villanova: Trailed by as many as 14 in the first half and 15 in the second half … The 50 points scored by Villanova in the first half were the most allowed by the Irish this season … The Wildcats shot 58.8 percent (20-34) in the first half and 56.7 percent (34-60) for the game … They connected on 24-28 from the free-throw line and outrebounded the Irish 40-26 … Notre Dame was just 28-66 from the field (42.4 percent).

St. John’s: Trailed by as many as 14 in the first half …St. John’s led 49-41 at the break (the 49 points were the second-most scored against the Irish in the first half this season), but a 9-0 run to start the second half gave the Notre Dame a 52-49 advantage … St. John’s led by six (66-60) with 6:05 to play, while the Irish tied the contest at 68-68 after Colin Falls hit on of two free throws, but Larry Wright’s three-pointer with 10.4 seconds remaining gave the Red Storm the win … Notre Dame shot 25.7 percent in the second half, hitting just 9-35 attempts and connected on 35.5 percent for the game … St. John’s shot just 30.0 percent in the second half after shooting 59.3 percent (16-27) in the first 20 minutes.

South Florida: Notre Dame shot just 37.5 percent from the field and was outrebounded 48-38 in the contest as the Irish lost a BIG EAST raod game for the fourth time in five tries … Notre Dame trailed by five at the half and by 10 with 18:21 left in the game before pulling ahead 49-46 with 7:40 to play … With the score tied at 51-51, the Bulls go on a 14-4 run to take a 10-point lead with 45 seconds to play … Notre Dame shot just 32.1 percent from three-point range and was only 6-12 from the free-throw line … South Florida was 20-30 from the line.

DePaul: Notre Dame jumped out to an 11-0 lead, but the Blue Demons outscored the Irish 21-9 to take a 21-20 advantage with 10:54 to play in the first half … Notre Dame regained the lead with 2:31 to play, but the two teams headed to the locker room tied at 36-36 at the break … The Irish shot just 42.9 percent in the first half, while the Blue Demons connected on 50.0 percent from the field … DePaul led by as many as six points in the second half, but Notre Dame took a one-point lead on two occasions, the second coming with 7:16 to play … The Irish went up by five at the 4:21 mark, but DePaul tied the game at 63-63 with 2:42 to play … Tory Jackson nailed a three-pointer to put the Irish up 66-63 with 2:04 left in the contest … Notre Dame saw the Blue Demons score the contest’s final four points as they went on to prevail in the one-point victory.

100 Not So Common:
The 102 points scored by Villanova in their 102-87 victory over the Irish on Jan. 17 were the most given up by Notre Dame in a regulation game under head coach Mike Brey. The last time the Irish gave up 100 points in a regulation game was in a 101-70 loss to Connecticut on Jan. 12, 1999.

Thirty Something:
Russell Carter netted 32 points in the loss to St. John’s which marked his first career 30-plus point outing. The last Irish players to score 30-plus points in a game were Chris Quinn and Colin Falls who had 34 and 32, respectively, in Notre Dame’s 102-91 win at Seton Hall on Feb. 18, 2006.

Not An Ordinary Irish Day:
The 48 points Notre Dame scored in its 66-48 loss to Georgetown on Jan. 6 were the fewest by an Irish team in BIG EAST play (in 11-plus seasons as a conference member). The point total also matched the lowest by a Notre Dame squad under Mike Brey (the Irish also scored 48 points in 61-48 loss to North Carolina State on Nov. 26, 2005). That game also marked just the second time under Brey that the Irish scored under 50 points in a contest. Russell Carter was the only Notre Dame player in double figures as he scored 12 points, marking the first time and only this season that the Irish did not have multiple players in double figures.

Irish Are In Season 12 As BIG EAST Member:
Notre Dame began its 12th season as member of the BIG EAST Conference on Jan. 3 against Louisville. With their win, the Irish improved to 6-6 in BIG EAST openers and 3-4 under Irish head coach Mike Brey.

Young At Heart:
With freshmen Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson in the starting lineup against Seton Hall on Jan. 14, it marked the first time since the 2001-02 campaign that the Irish started two rookies. During that campaign, Chris Thomas started all 33 contests, while Jordan Cornette made six starts. Notre Dame was 4-2 when those two were in the starting lineup. Harangody and Jackson have been in the starting lineup each of the last 13 games as the Irish are 9-4 in those contests.

Irish Have Shown They Can Score:
Notre Dame has put up some impressive offensive numbers to date as the Irish are averaging 81.3 points per contest. Four current members of the team are averaging in double figures – Russell Carter (16.9), Colin Falls (15.1) Rob Kurz (12.9) and Luke Harangody (11.2). Notre Dame’s 50-point margin of victory (101-51) against Rider on Dec. 28 marked the largest margin of victory under Brey. Prior to its 78-62 victory over Louisville on Jan. 3, the Irish had scored 80-plus points in nine consecutive games. The last time that occurred was during the 1976-77 campaign and also in 1975-76.

Colin Falls’ return to the court against Army on Dec. 21 marked the 100th career game that he had played in an Irish uniform. Falls has played in 118 of 120 career games and has been in the starting lineup on 85 occasions.

Streaking Along:
Before its 66-48 loss to Georgetown on Jan. 6, Notre Dame had won 12 straight, marking the longest win streak for an Irish team since the 1973-74 campaign when that squad produced two 12-game win streaks during the season.

High Scoring:
Notre Dame’s current pace of averaging 81.3 points per game is the best scoring average for an Irish team under head coach Mike Brey and the first time since 1977-78 campaign that an Irish team has averaged better than 80.0 points per game. During that campiagn, Notre Dame averaged 80.7 points per game after netting 85.4 points the previous season in 1976-77.

Points A Plenty:
After 29 contests, Notre Dame is averaging 81.3 points per game (good for eighth nationally in scoring offense). The Irish rank 10th nationally in margin of victory at 14.6 points per game (seventh nationally). During its 12-game win streak, Notre Dame’s average margin of victory was 26.0 points per game (312 points).

Back In The Polls
Notre Dame entered the polls for the first time this season at No. 21 in the Associated Press rankings on Dec. 11, marking the first time since the first week of December of 2004 that it had earned a top-25 ranking. The Irish were never ranked after that point in 2004-05 and were not ranked at all during the 2005-06 campaign. Prior to this week, the Irish were ranked for nine consecutive weeks in either the AP or ESPN/USA Today polls. This year’s appearance in the polls marks the fifth time in seven seasons under head coach Mike Brey that his team has been ranked at some point during a season.

Irish Are Bullish On The Bulls:
In its 82-58 victory over South Florida on Jan. 21, Notre Dame closed out the first half with a 21-2 run and led 42-26 at the break. Trailing 24-21 after a USF two-point field goal, the Irish held the Bulls to just two points (two free throws) in the final 8:59 of the first half. USF opened the second half with two free throws and did not get its first field goal until the 18:20 mark of the second half.

Winning Impressively:
Ten of Notre Dame’s 23 victories have been by 24 or more points as the Irish are outscoring their opponents by a +14.6 margin (81.3 to 66.7). Coach Mike Brey’s squad has posted wins of 30-plus points in six games – IPFW (+43 points), Lafayette (+32 points), The Citadel (+24 points), Winston-Salem (+45 points), Elon (+31 points), Army (+41 points) Rider (+50), Stony Brook (+29 points) and DePaul (+24 points). The 50-point win over Rider on Dec. 28 was the largest margin of victory since a 126-73 win (53 points) over Miami on Feb. 22, 1986. The 99 points scored by Notre Dame in its victory over Alabama were the most by an Irish team over a top-10 opponent since Feb. 15, 1992, a 101-98 victory at No. 10 Syracuse.

Brey Receives Honorary Monogram:
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey received an honorary monogram from the Notre Dame Monogram Club at the Athletic Department’s Christmas Party on Dec. 14. Honorary monograms are occasionally awarded to people who have provided exceptional service to the University, whereby extending invitations to them to be members of the Notre Dame Monogram Club. Recipients – whose identities are traditionally kept a secret until the actual ceremonies – are presented with a scroll and blue blazer adorned with the Monogram Club logo. The select group of honorary monogram winners includes such notables as the late Pope John Paul II and United States President Ronald Reagan; former University president Rev. Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C.; television personality Regis Philbin; and national-championship football coaches Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz.

There’s a New Guy In Town:
There’s a new face along the Irish sidelines this season. Gene Cross, a 1994 graduate of Illinois, joins the Notre Dame basketball staff after spending the 2005-06 campaign at Virginia. A 10-year veteran of the collegiate ranks, he spent three years (2002-05) on Dave Leitao’s staff at DePaul before moving to Virginia when Leitao became the Cavaliers’ head coach. He also spent six years on the staff at University of Illinois-Chicago (1996-02).

Philly Family Connection:
Junior Rob Kurz’ sister Laura is a junior on the Villanova women’s basketball team (she is sitting out this season after transferring from Duke). Sophomore Ryan Ayers’ father Randy is currently an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic. He formerly was the head coach at Ohio State and with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Men In Black:
Against Seton Hall on Feb. 18, 2006, Notre Dame wore black uniforms with kelly green and white trim, marking the first time in school history that any Irish athletic team had worn black uniforms. Since that time the Irish have worn the black uniforms on 10 occasions and a 5-6 all-time. Notre Dame wore black for the first time this season in the Dec. 3 win over Maryland.

Like Father, Like Son:
The last name of freshman walk-on Tim Andree should be familiar to the Irish basketball faithful. His father Tim was a four-year monogram winner and played basketball for the Irish from 1979-83. It marks the first father-son basketball duo at Notre Dame since Kevin Hawkins (1978-81) was a walk-on member, following in his father Tom’s (1956-59) footsteps.