Luke Harangody puts up a shot during the first half.

Irish Down Kentucky, Earn Trip To New York

March 25, 2009

Notre Dame Kentucky NIT Quarterfinals Box Score

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)–Luke Harangody had 30 points and 11 rebounds and Notre Dame hit 12 3-pointers to end a 10-game losing streak to Kentucky, beating the Wildcats 77-67 Wednesday night to advance to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals.

Jodie Meeks scored 18 of his 21 points in the final 12:18 as the Wildcats (22-14) used a 17-5 run to cut the lead to 67-62 on a slam dunk by Perry Stevenson with 2:42 left. But the Irish were 8-of-8 from the free-throw line over the final 1:29 to end the game on a 10-5 run to hang on.

Kyle McAlarney added 15 points and Ryan Ayers, who held Meeks to one basket until the Irish were up by 15, added 14 points on 4-of-7 3-pointers for Notre Dame (21-14).

Patrick Patterson added 18 points for the Wildcats.

The Irish will face Penn State (25-11) Tuesday night in New York.

A large number of Kentucky fans, including its pep band, made the trip to South Bend, which is about 325 miles from Lexington. When Meeks hit a pair of 3-pointers midway through the second half to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 52-41, the Kentucky fans started chanting “Go Big Blue.”

They were quickly drowned out by Notre Dame fans chanting: “Let’s go Irish.”

The Irish managed to push their home court record to 15-3. It was Notre Dame’s first win over the Wildcats since a victory in 1990 during Rick Pitino’s first year as Kentucky coach.

In that game the Irish needed to come back from a seven-point halftime deficit. On Wednesday, the Irish led throughout.

Notre Dame led 34-26 at the half. The Irish quckly stretched the lead to 40-28 as Ayers and Harangody started the second half by hitting a pair of 3s. Moments later, back-to-back baskets by Harangody gave the Irish a 48-33 lead.

The Irish took their biggest lead at 62-45 when Tory Jackson, who added 10 points, scored on his own rebound with 8:02 left.

Notre Dame will be making its first trip to New York for the NIT final four since losing to Wake Forest in the 2000 championship game. Kentucky fell to 5-2 at the Joyce Center. The Wildcats hold a 41-18 advantage in the series.