NCAA Hoops: Hansbrough leads No. 9 Notre Dame

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NCAA Hoops: Hansbrough leads No. 9 Notre Dame

Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011
2:44 p.m.

Associated Press
SOUTH BEND, Ind. Ben Hansbrough for Big East player of the year? How about national player of the year, an award his brother won two seasons ago?

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey started the drums beating for his team's emotional leader after Hansbrough scored 25 points despite a tough start to lead No. 9 Notre Dame to a 76-69 win over Rutgers on Sunday.

"When you step back a bit, look at this, and get away from the preseason hype machine, certainly he is a Big East player of the pear candidate as well as national player of the year," Brey said. "Flat out. I mean, we are in the Top Ten and he has driven us into that position and we are in the hunt for the league title. It is starting to be really evaluated. Some people say 'Let's see what he does next game.' Well, he did it again."

After a slow start, Hansbrough took the game over. At one point he was 2 of 8 from the field, including 1 of 7 from beyond the 3-point line, but he used his drive-the-paint style to draw fouls and ended up making 11 of 13 free throws in a game that saw Notre Dame score only twice from the field in the last 8 minutes.

Hansbrough blamed part of his slow start on the early starting time.

"I think that was part of it, a Sunday game at noon," said the younger brother of Tyler Hansbrough who was chosen national player of the year for leading North Carolina to the national championship in 2009. "But you always have to be ready to play, and I don't think we were completely ready to play at the very beginning. We weren't ready to slide our feet and Coach Brey got on us a little bit."

Rutgers coach Mike Rice didn't put up much of an argument with Hansbrough receiving some honors.

"Hansbrough?" he questioned. "He just took the ball and manhandled us."

Jonathan Mitchell, who led Rutgers with 24 points, said Hansbrough "does a great job of using his body and using your weight against you to create fouls. Notre Dame did a great job of attacking us."

The Irish (19-4, 8-3) reclaimed sole possession of second place in the Big East behind No. 4 Pittsburgh and will host No. 15 Louisville on Wednesday.

Scott Martin had 14 points for Notre Dame and Tim Abromaitis added 10.

Jonathan Mitchell scored 24 points for Rutgers (12-11, 3-8) while Dane Miller added 11.

Rice wasn't about to argue about a big discrepancy between teams at the free throw line. Notre Dame was 27 of 34 the Scarlet Knights were only 8 of 12.

"You don't do anything with the referees in the Big East," he said. "They have their own fraternity. You just leave them alone and make adjustments and for the last two weeks we have. Believe me, some of those were fouls."

Brey said he knew Rutgers would be a tough opponent despite the records.

"It is just the ebb and flow of Big East play," he said. "I have not been happier about a win. You can kind of get into (a mindset) of what should happen because of the records, but Rutgers has tough kids and that's a group that beat us last year. They kept game pressure on and it was a hard game for us. We had to figure out how to get out of there. It was good for our group because we are going to be in a lot of these games the rest of the season."

Brey has pretty much let his five seniors play the bulk of the minutes recently.

"Today was a day for our old guys to win the game," he said. "We would make a mistake but they did not panic, they just moved onto the next play. We got the ball to the right guys at the foul line."

Notre Dame pulled away from a 7-7 tie with a 17-6 run that included five straight points and a nice assist by Hansbrough. The Irish stretched the lead to 25-15 before a 3-pointer by the Scarlet Knights' James Beatty started a 7-0 run and got Rutgers within 25-22.

Notre Dame led 37-33 at halftime with Hansbrough scoring 10 points.

The teams battled evenly in the second half before two free throws by Martin started an 8-2 run that made it 51-43 with 12:36 to play. Consecutive 3-pointers by Rutgers made it a two-point game before a layup by Hansbrough sparked an 11-2 run that gave the Irish a 62-51 lead.

Box score
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Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

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AP

Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

College basketball is back on CSN on Saturday as two local teams will be featured in live conference matchups.

In the first matchup at 11 a.m., Eastern Illinois will host Austin Peay in an Ohio Valley Conference clash on CSN+ while the second matchup has Evansville hosting Southern Illinois in a Missouri Valley Conference game at 1 p.m. on CSN.

Eastern Illinois (9-8, 1-3) is coming off of a conference loss to Murray State. Junior guard Montell Goodwin leads the charge for the Panthers as he's averaging 14.8 points per game on the season. Austin Peay (5-13, 1-3) just earned a tight win over SIU-Edwardsville to help end an 11-game losing streak. Junior Josh Robinson is having a strong season despite the losing as he's averaging 21.2 points per game for the Governors.

The second game will be on the main CSN at 1 p.m. as Southern Illinois (10-8, 3-2) tries to bounce back from a loss to Bradley. The Salukis are led by sophomore guard Armon Fletcher as the Edwardsville product leads the team at 13.7 points per game.

Evansville (10-8, 1-4) is coming off of three consecutive losses as the Purple Aces are trying to figure things out at home. Senior Jaylon Brown has been one of the Valley's premier scorers this season as he's putting up 20.9 points per contest.

MVC basketball doubleheader on CSN

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USA TODAY

MVC basketball doubleheader on CSN

Missouri Valley Conference basketball is back on CSN on Wednesday as a doubleheader begins at 6 p.m.

In the first game, Loyola will travel to Wichita State to face the Shockers in a 6 p.m. tip while the second game features Northern Iowa traveling to Bradley in a game that tips at 8 p.m.

Loyola (12-5, 2-2) has won two straight games as Chicago products Milton Doyle (Marshall) and Donte Ingram (Simeon) are both playing well. Doyle barely missed a triple-double in a win over Northern Iowa and followed that up with a career-high 35 points in a win over Bradley. Ingram has returned from a knee injury to give the Ramblers a boost as he had 25 in the win over Northern Iowa.

Wichita State (14-3, 4-0) has won five straight as they once again look like one of the Valley's best teams. Junior forward Darral Willis Jr. leads the Shockers in scoring at 12.1 points per game while sophomore Markis McDuffie is putting up 11.8 points per game. 

[RELATED: Complete NCAA coverage]

The second game of the doubleheader features Northern Iowa taking on Bradley. The Panthers (5-10, 0-4) have dropped five straight games as they're struggling to find help for senior guard Jeremy Morgan.

Bradley (7-10, 2-2) is coming off of a home loss to Loyola but they've had a solid bounceback season in head coach Brian Wardle's second year. The Braves only won five games all of last season as the roster has been revamped for this season.

Freshman guard Darrell Brown paces the Bradley offense at 12.2 points per game while junior forward JoJo McGlaston is putting up 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.