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Connecticut vs Notre Dame

Irish keep Walker in check, foil UConn rally

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Ben Hansbrough's assignment was to slow down the NCAA's leading scorer and make sure UConn's Kemba Walker didn't take over the game.

Mission accomplished.

Hansbrough led Notre Dame with 21 points Tuesday night and helped hold Walker to 19 -- shy of his head-turning 26.7 average -- as the 14th-ranked Irish stayed unbeaten at home by holding off the eighth-ranked Huskies 73-70.

Walker had his streak of 11 straight games with at least 20 points stopped.

"He's one of the best guards in the country. That's a great challenge for me. When I see somebody as talented as him, I see that as a challenge," said Hansbrough, who helped to force Walker into 8-for-23 shooting, including 0 for 5 on 3-pointers.

"He's a great competitor. It was a fun night to play against him."

Walker said the Irish didn't do anything differently against him defensively. It wasn't as much Hansbrough as it was his shot just not falling.

"I think I got every shot I wanted. I just missed," Walker said. "I'm not saying he didn't do a good job on me, he did. The whole team did a great job. I got shots I usually make. I just couldn't hit them tonight. ... I just missed some easy ones that I was making all season. That's it. It happens. Not every night is going to be a good night for me."

Tim Abromaitis, who missed three free throws in the final 19 seconds, added 19 points for the Irish (13-2, 2-1), who were without starting forward Carleton Scott because of a hamstring injury. Notre Dame is 10-0 at home this season.

"Kemba was well defended tonight. In my opinion, he was bodied tonight but that wasn't what beat us," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.

"We did not get the productivity we needed inside."

And that would be a reference to Alex Oriakhi, the Huskies' second-leading scorer at 11.3 points per game, who was held scoreless.

Hansbrough shot 7 for 16, led a key second-half surge and had five rebounds to go with his defensive effort.

"That's a heck of a workout to guard Kemba Walker and then score 21, make key plays," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

"Ben did everything you can do on the floor tonight and he even argued with his coach during the timeout. But that is our relationship. I love him. He makes me confident every day in practice."

Walker had only four points at halftime but quickly hit a jumper and a backdoor layup as UConn (11-2, 1-2) opened the second half with a 9-2 run and closed within three points.

With Notre Dame nursing a four-point lead, Walker tried to drive through traffic in the lane and his shot attempt was swatted away by Tyrone Nash. Notre Dame raced to the other end and Hansbrough was fouled, hitting one for a five-point lead. Minutes later Abromaitis hit a jumper, Hansbrough went right through the Huskies defense for a layup and then made a steal and scored on another drive, giving the Irish a 64-53 lead.

Walker's three-point play with 1:48 left got the Huskies within five points and they trailed by just four when Napier made two free throw with 1:11 to go.

After an Irish turnover, Walker was fouled with 22 seconds to go and hit both to cut the once-seemingly comfortable lead to two.

Abromaitis hit the first of two free throws, making it a three-point game, with just under 20 seconds remaining. Walker then missed a tying 3-point attempt and Nash hit two from the line with 12.5 seconds left to make it 73-68.

Shabazz Napier, who had 18 points for the Huskies, made two free throws and cut it back to three with 10.6 seconds to go. And after Abromaitis missed two from the line, Napier's long 3-point attempt with about two seconds left missed badly.

"I can't be mad at him on that last play. He just thought he didn't have that much time," Walker said of Napier's last attempt. "If it had gone in, nobody would have said anything."

The Irish led 38-30 at halftime when Abromaitis hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Scott is averaging 11.9 points and 6.4 rebounds while leading the team in blocked shots. He had started 23 straight games and was hurt late in Saturday's loss to Syracuse. It's uncertain how long he will be out.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Ben Hansbrough, chasing a loose ball, leads the way for the Irish with 21 points. (AP)
Ben Hansbrough, chasing a loose ball, leads the way for the Irish with 21 points. (AP)
Scoreboard
Connecticut #8 (11-2)304070
Notre Dame #14 (13-2) «383573
CT:K. Walker 19 Pts
CT:K. Walker 7 Reb
CT:K. Walker 5 Ast
ND:B. Hansbrough 21 Pts
ND:T. Abromaitis 7 Reb
ND:E. Atkins 5 Ast

Related Video

 
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
ConnecticutNotre Dame
CT
Kemba Walker
ND
Ben Hansbrough
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
19752154
Connecticut Huskies
K. Walker, G378-233-375419
R. Smith, F325-81-240211
A. Oriakhi, F-C230-30-06250
J. Lamb, G-F203-50-04028
C. Okwandu, C171-20-01122
S. Napier, G284-67-725318
J. Coombs-McDaniel, F174-70-04029
N. Giffey, G-F101-40-00203
D. Beverly, G80-00-01100
T. Olander, F80-10-02030
K. Bailey, GDid Not Play
M. Bradley, F-CDid Not Play
B. Stewart, FDid Not Play
E. Wolf, CDid Not Play
Totals 26-5911-1231162370
 44.1%91.7% 
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
B. Hansbrough, G407-165-654221
T. Abromaitis, F396-94-1071219
E. Atkins, G392-62-51527
S. Martin, G314-123-432413
T. Nash, F263-85-673411
J. Cooley, F181-20-06022
J. Brooks, G70-00-00010
C. Scott, FDid Not Play
T. Kopko, GDid Not Play
M. Broghammer, FDid Not Play
T. Knight, FDid Not Play
A. Dragicevich, GDid Not Play
J. Grant, GDid Not Play
Totals 23-5319-3129151773
 43.4%61.3% 
Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Villanova14-227-23
Butler11-521-823
Providence10-620-922
Georgetown10-618-924
St. Johns9-720-937
Xavier8-918-1241
Seton Hall6-1016-1273
DePaul6-1112-18166
Creighton4-1213-16131
Marquette3-1311-17148

ACC
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Virginia16-128-14
Duke13-326-35
Notre Dame12-424-527
Louisville11-523-616
N. Carolina10-620-913
Syracuse9-818-1260
Pittsburgh8-819-1149
Miami (Fla.)8-818-1171
N.C. State8-817-1253
Clemson8-816-1285
Florida St.7-1015-15119
Wake Forest5-1113-16117
Georgia Tech3-1412-17120
Boston College3-1411-18168
Va. Tech2-1510-20214
 
Other games
PITT 83 Final
PROV 79
Arkansas 46 Final
Texas 79
Ohio St 73 Final
Iowa 68