SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)—Notre Dame has a photograph in its locker room of last year’s team posing after beating Northern Illinois to break the Joyce Center record of 24 straight home wins. It’s about to be replaced.
Kyle McAlarney reminded coach Mike Brey of the need of the updated photo as they walked into the room Sunday after the Irish beat Furman 93-61 on Sunday for the team’s school-record 39th straight home victory, breaking the record set from 1943-48 at Notre Dame Fieldhouse.
“We knew coming into this game that there was something to play for and that give us a little extra motivation,” said McAlarney, who led the Irish with 32 points. “Coming off a great tournament in Maui, it’s very easy to fall back into getting a little lax and using excuses like you’re tired from jet lag and whatnot, but we knew that we had to play for something tonight.”
McAlarney had another motivation for playing well with Luke Harangody, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, out indefinitely with pneumonia. Harangody played ill against top-ranked North Carolina on Wednesday and had 13 points and seven rebounds in a 102-87 loss in the championship game. McAlarney, though, responded with a career-high 39 points against the Tar Heels.
He came up big again against Furman on Sunday. Notre Dame, playing its first game without Harangody, got off to a slow start, as Furman led 11-6 early. But McAlarney got the Irish going with back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the half.
McAlarney was surprised Furman started the game playing zone against the Irish, especially after his performance against North Carolina.
“I was shocked that they didn’t shadow me a little more,” he said.
Brey wasn’t surprised, though, how McAlarney responded.
“It’s not surprising. He’s a potent guy. I think obviously his team knows his team needs a little bit more out of him now with Luke H. down,” Brey said. “How crazy is basketball? He can go scoreless against Loyola, turn around and get 39 on the best team in the country. That’s why when you try to predict college basketball and trends, you’ve got no shot at it.”
McAlarney, who needed five stitches to his upper lip after getting elbowed in the second half, was 9-of-17 from 3-point range to match his second-highest scoring performance. and become the first Irish player with back-to-back 30 point games since Troy Murphy did it in 2000.
“The shots were there and I just felt real confident,” McAlarney said.
Ryan Ayers added a career-high 19 points for the Irish and Tory Jackson had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Brey said the key was none of the Irish tried to do too much with Harangody out.
“The tendency would be, ‘God, I’ve got to do more, I’ve got to do something different because we don’t have our leading scorer and rebounder.’ I said, “We really don’t need to do that. Just do what you do, play to your strengths,”’ Brey said.
Justin Dehm led Furman with 14 points, Brandon Sebirumbi added 12 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Miller added 11 points and Bryson Barnes had 10.
Brey said the Irish hope to have Harangody back by the game Dec. 13 against Boston University, although he said no doctor had told him that.
Brey said Harangody being out could turn out helping the team because it will force some players to step up.
“I think we have to look at it like that. It’s early in the season. There’s plenty of big games on our schedule throughout the year when he comes back,” Brey said.