Dec. 17, 2000
By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Tennessee Tech’s plan was simple, double team down low and try to force Notre Dame to make shots from outside. The plan worked for one half.
But the 21st-ranked Irish shot 61.3 percent in the second half, making 13 of their first 17 shots (76 percent) to spark a 35-9 run in an 82-68 victory Sunday that ended a two-game losing streak.
“I was waiting for one of those flurries that I’ve seen in practices and I’ve seen in a lot of games. It’s been a while,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “That was good, a lightning-bolt flurry.”
The flurry began with Ryan Humphrey and Troy Murphy scoring quick baskets underneath. Then David Graves, Matt Carroll and Martin Ingelsby started hitting from outside, with Carroll making three 3-pointers, Ingelsby one and Graves scoring six points.
“They’ve got five guys on the court most of the time who can score,” said Tennessee Tech coach Jeff Lebo. “You’ve got to pick your poison with them.
“Obviously we’re not big enough inside to handle Murphy, so we chose to double him. That leaves guys open in the perimeter and we just had to hope they’d miss some shots. They made them in the second half.”
Graves scored 20 points and Carroll 16 as the Irish (5-2), coming off losses to Indiana and Miami of Ohio, finally showed some of the firepower they had showed earlier this season.
Brey thinks the team was overwhelmed by its early success and the expectations that accompanied it.
“We obviously weren’t ready to handle that as a basketball team,” he said. “That doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re a good basketball team. We have done some good things this year. We have a chance to be really good.”
Graves said even though the Irish are a veteran team, the players aren’t accustomed to high expectations.
“We’re still relatively young. We’ve never been in the Top 25 before,” he said. “That’s something we’ve never experienced. A lot of things are still new to us – going to the NCAA tournament hopefully this year. Our bubble was burst the last two games.”
It appeared for a while the losing streak might hit three when the Irish made only two baskets in a span of 10 1/2 minutes and needed a last-second basket to go into halftime tied at 30.
“I think the team realized that the last four halves we played were bad,” Humphrey said. “We knew it was time for us to make a change.”
Troy Murphy, averaging 24 points per game, was held to 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting. When he made a free throw with 3:58 left to end a 0-for-6 streak from the foul line, Murphy raised his arms in celebration.
Brey said Murphy, playing without a brace on his right ankle for the first time in two weeks after spraining it, is trying to hard to come back to the way he was.
“I talked to him about pacing himself,” Brey said. It’s going to take some time.”
Ingelsby added 13 points and eight assists for the Irish, and Humphrey had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Carroll was 4-of-5 from 3-point range as the Irish made 11-of-23 3-pointers.
Tennessee Tech (3-5), playing its seventh road game, was led by Leigh Gayden with 17 points. Brent Jolly added 14, Trey Ferguson 11 and Larrie Smith 10. The Golden Eagles shot only 29.2 percent.