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February 3, 2008NOTRE DAME, Ind.-This is getting a bit redundant.
When the Irish need a big bucket, they get the ball to Luke Harangody and he scores.
Forty-eight hours after scoring 31 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to lead the Irish to an overtime victory over Providence, Harangody scored 29 points and snagged 14 rebounds to pace the Irish to an 89-80 victory over visiting DePaul Saturday night at the Joyce Center.
The victory was Notre Dame's 33rd straight at the Joyce Center and 13th in a row on their home floor against a Big East foe.
"Scary, it's unbelievable," summarized Mike Brey, whose greatest challenge now is coming up with a new and more creative way to describe Harangody's scintillating performances.
"At halftime I'm handed the stats and in 16 minutes, he's got 19 (points) and nine (rebounds)? Is anybody doing that in the country? Nobody is doing that in the country. It is special to watch."
Harangody clearly has established himself as the class of the conference.
"He's playing with unbelievable confidence," said DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright. "Somebody said he had trouble with seven-footers. Boy, that's a pretty good statement. A lot of people have trouble fighting the Hulk, too.
"I love kids with personality, and he plays the game the right way. That kid has a big heart. Certainly there's nobody better (in the Big East)."
To be fair, Harangody had plenty of help. Kyle McAlarney tossed in 17 points and Rob Kurz scored eight to go along with 12 rebounds. Zach Hillesland scored 10 points and Tory Jackson scored eight with six assists, four steals and four rebounds.
When the Blue Demons-who trailed by 11 at halftime (46-35) and by 13 with 12:14 left in the game cut it to 68-66 with 6:12 remaining-McAlarney hit a three-pointer, Ryan Ayers scored on a corner jumper and a slam off a pass from Jackson, and Hillesland slammed one home on a pass from McAlarney to safely pull away.
"We're just gelling," said Harangody, who finished with 10 offensive rebounds-five in each half. "Everyone knows each other's game so well. It's so fun to go out there and play, especially at home. We know we're going to come out strong at home.
"I was able to get some good looks to start off with. I was able to get a few offensive rebounds to help jump start me a little bit."
DePaul kept attacking with the inside play of 6-foot-10 freshman Mac Koshwal (18 points, nine rebounds) and the outside sniping of Dar Tucker (19 points, 5-of-8 from three-point range) and Draelon Burns (17 points).
"We couldn't get away from them. They're just too talented," said Brey, noting DePaul's 11-of-23 from three-point range. "I thought maybe they'd shoot it well because they only made three the other night against Syracuse.
"But like (the) Providence (game), I thought our will and our poise was excellent to win a tough Big East game."
The two teams exchanged offensive punches for the better part of the first 15 minutes before the Irish went on a 7-0 run en route to its largest lead of the first half, 46-35, at the break.
A three-pointer by Luke Zeller gave the Irish a 62-49 lead with 12:14 remaining. But the Blue Demons went on a 10-2 run before Notre Dame controlled the tempo over the final 6:08.
Brey expected a battle to the finish and said so to his players after DePaul pulled within two.
"During the timeout, I said, 'Hey, we're not winning a Big East game by 20. We're going to have to play. They're really good. This is going to come down to game situations, so let's expect it,'" Brey said.
But none of the Irish seem to ever lose confidence, due in large part to Harangody.
"I think there's a unique psyche there," said Brey of Harangody. "It's a unique package. Psyche, intensity, motor, athletic ability, strength, touch...It's the perfect storm of a lot of things coming together with this young man."