Dec 22, 2002
By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The only thing in doubt five minutes into Notre Dame’s victory over Canisius on Sunday was whether the Irish would score 100 points for the second straight game.
The ninth-ranked Irish didn’t, but only because coach Mike Brey decided to sit most of his starters for the final 11 minutes in a 93-75 victory over the Golden Griffins.
Through the first five minutes the Irish were on pace to score 200 points, opening a 25-8 lead when Chris Thomas hit a 3-pointer 4:37 into the game.
“We wanted to concentrate on coming out from the start and just trying to take away their confidence in the beginning,” said Matt Carroll, who led the Irish with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting in 25 minutes.
After the fast start, Canisius (5-4) never had a chance.
“Our only chance was if they came out in green jerseys,” Canisius coach Mike MacDonald said, referring to Notre Dame football team’s 14-7 loss to Boston College earlier this year. “It worked for the Jesuits once.”
Dan Miller had been feeling a little green Saturday, spending the day in bed with the flu. It didn’t slow him any on Sunday, though, as he scored a career-high 23 points.
“I got it going early and I felt good with my shot,” said Miller, who hit two 3-pointers in the opening 1:36 and was 5-of-6 from 3-point range in the first half.
The Irish (10-1) are off to their best start since going 12-1 to start the 1978-79 season, when they were ranked No. 1 for a month.
“Some of those teams that win some big games like us, they just let up. The thing that’s been amazing about this team is that no one has,” Carroll said. “No one is satisfied. No one has let it go to their head, which makes this team very special.”
Notre Dame took control from the start, taking an 8-0 lead on two 3-pointers by Miller and two free throws by Torin Francis. The Irish hit seven of their first nine shots to quickly extend the lead to 22-4.
The Irish, who had a season-low three 3-pointers in their last game against DePaul, had three in three minutes against Canisius.
“I think it knocked us back on our heels a little bit,” MacDonald said. “I think all those 3s they didn’t make against DePaul they saved up for us. ”
Notre Dame’s Chris Thomas had 17 points, tied his career high with 13 assists and didn’t have a turnover in 23 minutes.
“That was an amazing stat for only playing 23 minutes,” Brey said.
Brian Dux scored 20 points and Richard Jones had 13 to lead Canisius.
Brey was worried the Irish might be rusty after not practicing for several days because of final exams and not playing for a week. The players, though, said they weren’t worried.
“We knew if we took care of business and prepared for the game like we do every other game we’d take care of it like we have been,” Miller said. “We came out and played strong and took care of them early.”