No. 8 UConn Vs. No. 14 Notre Dame: Irish Hang On For 73-70 Big East Win

The 11-1 Huskies fight for conference position against the 12-2 Fighting Irish.

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UConn Vs. Notre Dame Final Score: Irish 73, Huskies 70 In Big East Battle

The Connecticut Huskies played with purpose after falling behind at halftime to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but the home team held on to take a crucial conference matchup and keep their two-loss status alive. The Huskies drop to 11-2.

Star players led the way, with Irish guard Ben Hansbrough scoring 21 and Huskies guard Kemba Walker dropping 19. Hansbrough played all 40 minutes, while Walker had to sit for a moment during the first half with apparent discomfort.

The Irish didn’t shoot free throws with accuracy, but made up for it in volume. The Huskies only missed one of their 12 shots from the line, while Notre Dame got to shoot 31 freebies. It was a very evenly matched game otherwise — though the Irish got into foul trouble early, they weren’t whistled nearly as often as UConn was.

For more on this game, join Rakes Of Mallow or The UConn Blog.

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UConn Vs. Notre Dame: Irish Holding On To Lead Despite Foul Trouble

The Huskies came out of the locker room with a fire lit underneath them, and brought the game to within one point before Notre Dame was able to build a cushion up again. Kemba Walker is being held to an uncharacteristic shooting night, with just 10 points after 3/4 of the game have been played. He even managed a rare airball.

Just when UConn would get close, either the Irish would hit a casual jumper, or the Huskies would foul and allow Notre Dame free points. The Irish also fought hard under the basket and were able to get some second chance points from forward Jack Cooley.

Another story of the night is the turnovers, with the Huskies coughing up the ball nine times to just four TOs from Notre Dame. 

The FIghting Irish are struggling with fouls, and two of their key players, Scott Martin and Tyrone Nash, have racked up four each with a lot of time left to play. 

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UConn Vs. Notre Dame: Irish Lead Huskies 38-30 At The Half

The Fighting Irish continued to find ways to maintain possession deep into the shot clock, and did so while their forward, Tyrone Nash, sat on the bench with foul trouble. Their electric shooting continued, with seven of their made baskets coming from beyond the three-point line.

UConn was able to get good looks, and Kemba Walker took seven shots, but there seemed to be a lid on the basket for the Huskies as he was only able to connect on two of them. Keep in mind, this is the nation's leading scorer. The Irish have been sticking with the man-to-man defense, and have effectively been able to shut down the Huskies' scoring.

As the clock reached its final ticks, Notre Dame was able to run down the shot clock again and make a last-second three to bring the lead to 38-30. Tim Abromitais, who hit the big three, leads all scorers with 12 points. He and his teammate Ben Hansbrough share the rebounding lead with Kemba Walker at five apiece.

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UConn Vs. Notre Dame: Huskies Keeping Things Close, Irish Lead Halfway Through First Period

After UConn scored the first 3 points, Notre Dame went on a 10-0 run before the Huskies were forced to take a time out. Notre Dame's streak continued despite the pause, and the run hit 13 points before UConn was able to hit a basket. 4 of those 5 made field goals in that spurt came with assists, which just demonstrates what makes the Irish so effective.

Kemba Walker did not score until 10:39 left in the first half. He hit a jumpshot in transition. On the wings of Walker's basket, the Huskies went on their own 7-point run to bring the game close. Shabazz Napier, off the bench for UConn, came in and shot perfectly to start, leading all scorers halfway through the first half with 8 points and 2 steals.

Kemba Walker had to go to the bench twice and appeared to be uncomfortable. Official word? He's fine, nothing to report.

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No. 8 UConn Vs. No. 14 Notre Dame: Big East Brawl In South Bend

GAME NOTES: The Big East Conference is loaded this season once again, and a pair of ranked teams from the league will square off in South Bend tonight as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish play host to the Connecticut Huskies.

UConn opened the season with 10 consecutive victories, including wins over the likes of Kentucky and Michigan State that enabled the club to quickly climb the national poll. After finally tasting defeat at the hands of Pittsburgh last week, the Huskies bounced back with a 66-61 overtime victory over South Florida on Friday. The Huskies, who are 11-1 overall, including 1-1 in league play, have played just one true road game thus far, the 15-point loss to Pitt.

As for Notre Dame, it owns a 12-2 overall record that includes a perfect 9-0 mark at home. The Fighting Irish were able to cruise past a strong Georgetown team to open Big East play last week, but the Irish fell to Syracuse on New Year's Day by a 70-58 final on the road. The only other loss to date came against the same Kentucky squad that UConn knocked off.

The Huskies hold a 16-7 series lead over the Irish, and the teams split a pair of meetings a year ago.

No player nationally is more valuable to his team than Kemba Walker is to UConn. The explosive guard has paced the Huskies in scoring in all 12 games to date, and after netting 18 points in the season opener, Walker has scored at least 20 points in every other outing. He is averaging a robust 26.7 ppg and also tops the roster with 46 assists and 28 steals. Alex Oriakhi is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster, as he checks in with 11.3 ppg and 8.6 rpg. The Huskies are generating 77.1 ppg while limiting opponents to 63.6 ppg on 37.9 percent field goal efficiency. Walker posted 24 points in the overtime victory over USF, and Oriakhi pitched in 15 points. UConn made good on just 37.5 percent of its field goal attempts in that tilt, including a 2-of-14 showing from three-point range, but there were a few obvious reasons that the team was able to overcome that inefficiency and earn the win. The Huskies earned a 22-10 edge in points from the foul line and committed seven fewer turnovers than did the Bulls.

Tim Abromaitis has led Notre Dame in scoring in four straight outings and is averaging 16.3 ppg this season to pace a foursome of double-digit scorers. More than just a scorer, Abromaitis is also tops with 7.2 rpg. Ben Hansbrough, one of the nation's top pure shooters, checks in with 15.2 ppg on the strength of his 45.5 percent accuracy from three-point range, and he is handing out 4.0 apg. Carleton Scott is scoring 11.9 ppg on 50.9 percent shooting from the field, and Tyrone Nash adds 10.1 ppg. The Fighting Irish are generating 78.8 ppg while limiting opponents to 63.4 ppg on 39.8 percent field goal efficiency. Strong rebounding has been key to the club's success, as it is ripping down 8.2 rpg more than the opposition. Abromaitis scored 15 points against Syracuse last time out, while Hansbrough pitched in 12 points and five assists. Notre Dame was outshot, outrebounded and outscored from the foul line while committing more turnovers than the Orange, so it isn't hard to figure out why the squad fell short.

As great as Walker has been, his supporting cast is rather average with the exception of Oriakhi, a consistently productive performer. Notre Dame is a more balanced squad and has the obvious advantage of playing at home tonight.

GAME NOTES: The Big East Conference is loaded this season once again, and a pair of ranked teams from the league will square off in South Bend tonight as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish play host to the Connecticut Huskies.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Joyce Center (11,418) -- South Bend, Indiana. Television: SNY. Home Record: UConn 8-0, Notre Dame 9-0. Away Record: UConn 0-1, Notre Dame 0-1. Neutral Record: UConn 3-0, Notre Dame 3-1. Conference Record: UConn 1-1, Notre Dame 1-1. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 16-7.

Notre Dame 78, Connecticut 70

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