March 21, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame used a balanced attack to counter the physical play of Xavier in Monday night’s game.
“They are a tough team,” sophomore David Graves said of the Musketeers. “They play hard. They fight. They scrap. They claw. They bump and push. Hats off to them, they played a great game. They played a physical game and there is no quitting. We had to bring a good game today and we did that.”
The Irish sealed their win at the free throw line. Freshman Matt Carroll went to the line three times in the last minute. He drained all six attempts. Dillon and Murphy also made trips to the foul line in the final minute, making good on three of the four attempts.
Notre Dame sank nine free throws on ten tries, giving them the 76-64 win over Xavier.
“Matt does an excellent job of maximizing the contributions of other players without minimizing Murphy,” Xavier coach Skip Prosser said of Doherty. “That is a credit to Matt, his staff, and his players.”
Monday night proved no exception. The Irish attacked equally on the inside with Murphy and on the outside with Graves.
Sophomore Troy Murphy went down hard in practice over the weekend on his ankle. It put a scare into Notre Dame’s hopes of winning the NIT. The forward sprained it but still played in Monday night’s game.
“He is a factor just being on the court because they are worried about him,” Doherty said. “He draws a crowd.”
Sophomore Troy Murphy managed to score 21 points and grab nine rebounds in the game. Xavier managed to contain the forward for only one half. They held him to just nine points and three rebounds in the first half.
“It was kind of like when Troy gets on his runs and he is unstoppable you just keep feeding him the ball,” Graves said about his first half spurt. “That is how it was tonight with me.”
Xavier zeroed in so much on Murphy that they appeared to forget about the threat of Graves and freshman Matt Carroll. Graves appeared unstoppable in the first half, drilling 21 points. He shot 8-for-11 from the field and 4-for-6 from behind the arc. The 24 points he finished with, registered as his best performance since the Elon game in December.
“I wanted the ball every time,” Graves said. “Obviously I was shooting the ball well. They did a great job in the second half concentrating. Every time that I came up they were switching and putting two people on me. They did a good job in making adjustments.”
Carroll also capitalized off the Murphy double teams. He finished the game with 13 points. Six of the points came off free-throws in the final minute.
“He draws a lot of attention and we feed off that,” Graves said. “He did a good job of kicking it back out and finding the open man. The reason why he is such a good player is not because he puts up 25 points a night and grabs 12 rebounds. It is because he makes other people on his team better. That is what a great player is and that is what he has become.”
All-American Murphy and his teammates jump back into action on Wednesday night against BYU. The third round game is scheduled for 9 p.m. at the Joyce Center.