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November 2, 2007NOTRE DAME, Ind.-A 20-0 run midway through the first half propelled the Notre Dame men's basketball team to a 34-point halftime lead en route to a 109-53 exhibition victory over St. Ambrose Friday night at the Joyce Center.
Senior Rob Kurz led six Irish players in double figures with 23 points and 11 rebounds as Notre Dame dominated the much smaller Bees, an NAIA school from Davenport, Iowa.
The Irish forced St. Ambrose into 24 turnovers-one night after the Bees coughed it up 37 times at Bradley-and limited the visitors to just 17.6 percent shooting in the first half and 28.9 percent for the game.
"I thought we were in good position defensively, especially the first 15 minutes," said Irish head coach Mike Brey, whose squad jumped to a 35-5 lead with 8:04 left in the first half.
"We were running. We want to keep running and attacking. We've got some options. You feel you can score the ball, and (Luke) Harangody wasn't even in there."
Harangody, who has been sidelined for three weeks with torn ligaments in his thumb, wasn't needed against the Bees, whose tallest player is just 6-foot-6. Kurz and junior Zach Hillesland (12 points, 14 rebounds) cleaned the backboards while guards Tory Jackson (12 points), Kyle McAlarney (11) and Jonathan Peoples (11) joined forward Luke Zeller (11) in double-digit scoring.
"We get it out and run," said Brey of Notre Dame's fast-breaking attack. "The great thing is you can throw ahead to our big guys because they can make a decision with the ball, and we can really play fast. We talk about not letting the ball hit the floor sometimes."
The Irish were credited with 24 assists to just nine turnovers. For the second straight night, the Bees allowed 19 steals.
"We got some early steals and rebounded the basketball," Kurz said. "We got some easy points in transition, we got some confidence early, and we did a good job of taking them out of a rhythm offensively by really pressuring the ball."
McAlarney made his long-awaited return to the court after missing the entire Big East season last year due to suspension.
"My high point of the night was just getting introduced in the starting lineup," said McAlarney who, like Jackson, dished out five assists. "I heard the crowd cheering and I let out a big yell.
"I didn't want to make tonight about myself because that would be very selfish of me. As a team, we've been working really hard together to get where we are. I just went out and played with the other guys."
Hillesland was happy to be competing against someone other than his teammates.
"This is a date we've been looking forward to for a long time," said Hillesland, who added four assists, three blocked shots and four steals to his line score. "The point is focusing on things we can control. The competition might not have been there tonight, but we wanted to stay as focused as possible for 40 minutes."
Four Irish freshmen were unveiled. Tyrone Nash entered the game midway through the first half, quickly snagged three rebounds, and scored seven points in 13 minutes of action. Tim Abromaitis converted all four of his shots and finished with nine points in nine minutes.
Long-armed Carleton Scott scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 14 minutes. Ty Proffitt scored three points in eight minutes.
Notre Dame takes on St. Edward's (Texas) Wednesday, Nov. 7, in another exhibition game at the Joyce Center. The Irish open regular-season play Monday, Nov. 12 at home versus Long Island.