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Notre Dame basketball throttles Chicago State 92-65, tuning up for Kentucky

Updated: December 28, 2012 6:27AM



SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It won’t be this easy on Thursday. Not against Kentucky.

Notre Dame likely won’t go 9-for-12 on three-pointers in the first 12 minutes against the Wildcats. Probably won’t have an 18-0 run, or three guys with double-doubles, or two guys with double-digit assists. Surely won’t be as many open looks and fast-break dunks and clean put-backs, either.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no value in throttling Chicago State 92-65 three days before the defending national champions come to town. Especially for an Irish team that hadn’t been shooting well.

“We really needed this going into our next game,” said junior guard Jerian Grant, who matched a career-high with 22 points and set a career-high with 11 assists. “Just seeing the ball go in is going to help.”

What Grant did in the first half — dominate the stat sheet and control the tempo — Eric Atkins did in the second. He had 13 points and 11 assists, as he and Garrick Sherman (12 points) keyed an 18-point second-half streak after the Irish (6-1) came out of the break sloppy and uninspired.

Center Jack Cooley marveled at the backcourt tandem’s gaudy assist totals. So did coach Mike Brey.

“They really play the game the right way,” Brey said. “They’re fun to watch. When they’re flowing like that, it’s really beautiful basketball.”

Cooley added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Irish, who shot 61 percent from the field, 54.5 percent from the arc, and 72.7 percent from the free-throw line.

“To know that we shot the three-ball well and shot from the line well was good to see, because we haven’t shot well from those places this season,” Cooley said. “We all got in [the gym] and shot a lot more. I shot a ton of free throws. I’m tired of shooting free throws. We just tightened it all up.”

Brey was particularly encouraged by the fast-moving, free-flowing offense, even if it’s unlikely to work as well against Kentucky.

“I love how we share the ball,” Brey said. “Our offensive identity and our flow has gotten better in the last seven or eight days. And not a moment too soon with what’s coming on Thursday.”

Chicago State (1-6) got 16 points from Skokie native Clarke Rosenberg. Quinton Pippen’s — Scottie’s nephew — had eight points and four assists. Cougars coach Tracy Dildy said his players were tweeting photos from campus all day, and said he approached Brey about making this an annual pilgrimage.



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