Thursday, December 09, 2010


The Big East has been flexing its muscles in the early part of the 2010-2011 college basketball season as the dominant conference thus far. Last night the SEC took a small bit of wind out of the sails of the conference by sweeping both contests in the DirecTV SEC/Big East Invitational played at Freedom Hall in Louisville (KY). In the opening contest, Arkansas got past Seton Hall by the score of 71-62 and the evening was closed out with No. 17 Kentucky using a strong second half to put an end to the undefeated start of No. 23 Notre Dame, 72-58.

The Fighting Irish entered the contest with an 8-0 record and looked to take control of the contest early using a 16-4 run to take a 27-20 lead midway through the first half. Senior Ben Hansbrough connected on four three-pointers and scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the game's first 10 minutes helping the Irish to the seven-point lead.

After Kentucky cut the lead back to two, Hansbrough would spark a 9-0 run with a three and a jumper and the Irish had their largest lead, 38-27, with 4:44 left in the first half on a pair of free throws by Tim Abromaitis.

However, the Irish offense would disappear and the Wildcats embarked on a 26-6 run over 14:40, spanning the first and second halfs for a 53-44 lead with 10:04 left in the game. Notre Dame would go more than 12 minutes without a field goal, missing 10 consecutive shots and turning it over five times in that stretch as Kentucky took control of the game.

"We missed some stuff around the basket, that deflated us a little," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said afterwards in the AP write-up. "I thought we were poised at times and we were frazzled at times. We weren't scoring."

The Irish mounted one last charge, cutting the deficit to four, 57-53, with 5:03 remaining when freshman Eric Atkins made two free throws. However, Terrence Jones took over for UK going on a personal 10-4 run putting John Calipari's club up by 10, 67-57, with just 1:13 remaining. Jones dominated the contest scoring 27 points, grabbing 17 rebounds and adding three assists and two blocks for good measure as Kentucky took home the win by the final of 72-58.

"Jones is an amazing talent, a tough matchup," Brey said.

After his hot start, Hansbrough finished with 21 points, just just two in the game's final 24 minutes. Carelton Scott added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Irish as Notre Dame shot just six of 30 (20%) from the field in the second half after shooting 56% (14-25) in the opening 20 minutes.

The Irish fall to 8-1 on the season and have Gonzaga coming to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center this Saturday night for a non-conference showdown.


Don't forget the Big East fan on your holiday shopping list with 2011 Big East Tournament Ticketsicon this March in Madison Square Garden. Also visit our 2011 Big East Tournament & Tickets page for more details.



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