Irish drill Kentucky 64-50

SOUTH BEND—No. 8 Kentucky and its heralded freshmen weren’t ready for the first true road test of the season.The Wildcats looked comfortable at the start against Notre Dame, jumping to an early six-point lead.But once the Fighting Irish and their sellout crowd got going, Kentucky faltered and lost 64-50 on Thursday night.

“We came out a little shell-shocked and we started playing their game, which is slow down and half court,” said Julius Mays, who led the Wildcats with 16 points.”I think we’re more of an up-tempo team.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the Wildcats struggled down the stretch.

“It was obvious they needed help from me and it was obvious they didn’t get it from me,” he said.

Calipari said his young team wasn’t ready for the atmosphere.

“It’s tough to coach new teams each year, that’s what is hard. That’s just part of what we have to deal with. Every team is new, and we are just learning about our team,” he said.

The Wildcats also lost to Duke 75-68 in Atlanta on Nov. 13.Junior guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant paced the Irish (7-1).Atkins led the Fighting Irish with 16 points, Grant had 13 points and six assists and Jack Cooley added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“The way our guards were controlling things, I didn’t have to do a lot of coaching,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.”Those guys were coaching the team. Eric Atkins running things, calling sets. When you have a veteran backcourt doing that, I just don’t want to get in their way too much.”

Notre Dame outplayed Kentucky (4-2) inside during the first half and held the Wildcats to a season-low 40 percent shooting for the game.The Irish shot 48 percent, the best anyone against Kentucky this season.The senior captains of the top-ranked Notre Dame football team, linebacker Manti Te’o, defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, tight end Tyler Eifert and tackle Zack Martin, got a standing ovation when they were introduced at halftime.Students rushed the floor after the Irish wrapped up their second win over the Wildcats in the past 13 meetings.Grant was disappointed in the fans’ reaction, saying it wasn’t like last season when the Irish upset top-ranked Syracuse.

“I’d rather not have them on the court. Last year was kind of a surprise game. This year, going into it, all of us were expecting to win this game,” he said.

Calipari said his team didn’t compete.

“They beat us to balls. They beat us around the basket. We didn’t compete. We didn’t execute. We didn’t play together. There’s a lot of things we didn’t do,” he said.

Nerlens Noel added 10 points. Two Kentucky freshmen struggled. Archie Goodwin, who is averaging 19 points, was 1 of 7 shooting and finished with three points and Alex Polythress, who is averaging 18.4 points, had just one basket and was 1 of 3 from the free-throw line.The Irish outrebounded Kentucky 33-27.

“We just knew that we could attack their bigs,” Cooley said. “We watched film on them and knew that they had young bigs, and we could try to outsmart them instead of out-athleticizing them. Not really change how we play but just do what we do.”

Brey said his team played with poise whenever Kentucky started rallying.

“When we don’t have good offensive stretches, we’re still able to concentrate defensively,” he said.

Notre Dame led 36-25 at halftime. The lead was around 10 points when Cameron Biedscheid, who had 10 points, hit a 3-pointer to ignite a 10-0 run that included a 3-pointer by Grant and another jumper by Biedscheid and gave Notre Dame a 55-35 lead.Calipari said he hopes his team learned something in the loss.

“What I hope they figure out is you’ve got to do it together. You have to give Notre Dame credit. What a great crowd, with a great student body. They ground us out. That’s how we usually play when we get up,” he said.

Florida routs Marquette in SEC-Big East Challenge

GAINESVILLE—Benched because of his attitude in practice, Pat Young responded as well as Florida coach Billy Donovan could have imagined.Young had 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks as the seventh-ranked Gators routed Marquette 82-49 Thursday night in the SEC-Big East Challenge. Young played with energy and effort — the kind of performance Donovan expects every night from his 6-foot-9 junior center.

“My job as a coach is to bring out the best in Patric Young as a player,” Donovan said. “Right now, he wasn’t doing that. It wasn’t performance. It was effort, his attitude, his disruptiveness in practice that caused me to say you’re not starting. Give Patric credit. He responded with a great effort.”

Young was one of six players in double figures for Florida (6-0).The Gators took control midway through the first half, building a double-digit lead thanks to Michael Frazier II’s hot hand and solid defense, and never let up.They kept things rolling after the break, opening up a 23-point lead on Will Yeguete’s layup.And get this: the Gators stayed unbeaten without much help from Kenny Boynton. The team’s leading scorer missed his first six shots and was scoreless until hitting a jumper with 16:34 remaining.Boynton finished with six points on 2-of-11 shooting. Frazier (17 points), Yeguete (11), Casey Prather (11), Mike Rosario (11), and Erik Murphy (10) all scored in double digits.Vander Blue led Marquette (5-2) with 20 points, the team’s only player in double figures.Florida’s balanced scoring was impressive, but was overshadowed by Frazier and Young.Frazier made 5 of 8 shots from 3-point range, getting on such a role in the first half that teammates started looking for the 6-4 freshman guard.

“I don’t know when I started feeling it,” Frazier said. “I kept playing, kept shooting, I was open. My teammates did a great job of finding me, and shots went down. The bucket did seem a little bit bigger than usual. When you get extra shots up and your teammates find you, you can’t ask for anything more.”

Young, meanwhile, came off the bench for the first time this season.But he played nothing like a reserve. He dominated the boards and did all the little things. He had two monster blocks, a couple of nifty passes, went after loose balls and had a leaping steal near midcourt that turned into points.

“I believe that (Donovan) sees something far greater than what I see in myself, and I just need to embrace the moment of adversity,” Young said. “When he says he’s squeezing us, I need to embrace those moments and trust my teammates to help me because I don’t have to do this on my own.”

Florida held Marquette to 41 percent shooting, the latest shutdown for Donovan’s defensive-minded team. The Gators have held opponents to 26 or fewer points in 10 of 12 halves this season.The Golden Eagles scored 24 in the first and 25 in the second. They finished 3 of 12 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 14 times.Marquette had won three in a row and was looking to avenge last season’s loss to the Gators in the NCAA tournament. Florida won 68-58 in the round of 16 in Phoenix. Marquette lost Jae Crowder and Darius-Johnson Odom off that team, but the Golden Eagles showed little drop-off while playing Butler tight in the Maui Invitational and beating Mississippi State and USC.But they were overmatched in Gainesville.

“I’ve never been beat this bad in my entire career — 179 games as a head coach,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “That’s the worst loss. Not close.”

Florida opened a 23-13 lead midway through the first half, pushed it to 38-20 on consecutive 3s from Frazier and could have cruised in the second half.Instead, the Gators poured it on. Frazier’s fifth 3-pointer made it 70-39 with 6:14 remaining.About the only concerns for the Gators were a couple of minor injuries.Murphy went to the locker room with what appeared to be a hip injury, and Scottie Wilbekin went down with a right leg injury



Bulls bounce back, rout Mavs 101-78

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau preaches 48 minutes of effort to his team. He didn’t quite get that against the Mavericks on Wednesday night, but it was much better than the last time out.Luol Deng had 22 points and six rebounds as the Bulls cruised to a 101-78 victory against the Dallas Mavericks.Five players scored at least 11 points to help the Bulls (7-7) beat the Mavericks for the fourth consecutive time. The Bulls recovered from a 93-92 loss to Milwaukee on Monday, in which it blew a 27-point third-quarter lead, largely due to the proficiency of its reserves.

“The bench was great,” Thibodeau said. “The starters got us out to a good start. We needed everybody.”

Nate Robinson had 14 points and a game-high six assists for the Bulls, and fellow reserve Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 13, including 9-of-10 shooting from the free throw line.

“I feel like we’re coming together, getting more comfortable out there,” Butler said. “They tell us all the time that you have to keep building that lead, but it definitely shows that any night, any team — 20 down, 10 down — they can come back and win the game.”

The Bulls’ bench combined for a season-high 50 points.Joakim Noah chipped in 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks as the Bulls avoided its first three-game losing streak at the United Center since dropping five straight in March 2010.

“It was good to come out and forget that last loss and move forward as a team,” said Bulls reserve Taj Gibson, who had eight points and eight rebounds. “We understand we have a long season. There’s going to be a lot of bumps in the road, but we’re sticking together.”

Shawn Marion scored a season-high 18 points for Dallas, which shot only 35 percent to lose for the eighth time in 11 games. The Mavericks (7-9), who had won 21 of 27 against the Bulls, dropped to 2-6 on the road.

“I loved our start to the game, but they kept chipping away and they cut the deficit, they took the lead, and our response wasn’t good,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “No excuses. We played last night and all that, but we just have to do a better job.”

Both teams were coming off difficult losses. The Mavericks lost 100-98 at Philadelphia on Tuesday when O.J. Mayo missed a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds left. The Bulls had a 78-51 lead in Monday’s loss before the Bucks broke off a game-changing 31-4 run.

“We’ve got to show a collective caring for one another and a collective toughness,” Carlisle said. “We’re entering a really difficult stretch of our schedule. Nothing’s going to be easy. We’ve got to embrace that challenge.”

Dallas closed within six with 2:30 to go in the third Wednesday but after a timeout, Deng hit a 3-pointer and Robinson scored on a drive to give the Bulls its biggest lead, 77-56.The Bulls pushed the lead to 29 in the fourth quarter and never led by fewer than 17.

“Overall, I thought we played a lot tougher with the lead,” Thibodeau said.

The crowd roared to life in the closing minutes as the Bulls neared 100 points, meaning a free sandwich for everyone in attendance. Nazr Mohammed’s dunk did the trick, eliciting a huge roar from the remaining fans.The Bulls reserves keyed a second-quarter spurt to open the game. After Rodrigue Beaubois’ 3 cut the lead to 31-28, the Bulls went on a 13-0 run and outscored Dallas 18-2 over the next 4:40.Dallas’ leading scorer, Mayo, was held to a season-low four points on 2-of-9 shooting. He entered the game averaging 20.8 points and had scored in double digits in each of the Mavs’ first 15 games. It was only the second time in his NBA career that Mayo scored four or fewer points while playing 30 or more minutes.

“Here’s the thing — we caught a break,” Thibodeau said. “They’re missing [Darren] Collison and Dirk [Nowitzki] and they played last night. And Mayo is dinged up with an ankle injury.”

NOTES—Collison was inactive because of a sprained right middle finger. The point guard has struggled recently in his first season with Dallas, shooting 35 percent during his past seven games and committing 3.0 turnovers per contest. Collison started 14 of Dallas’ first 15 games, coming off the bench for the first time this season in Saturday’s loss to Philadelphia. He has been replaced in the starting lineup by third-year point guard Dominique Jones….Each team took the floor with its best player still rehabbing from knee surgery. Neither Derrick Rose (left knee) nor Nowitzki (right knee), both former NBA MVPs, were at the game….Mayo is averaging 24.3 points on 52 percent shooting at home, but only 15.3 points on 40.6 percent shooting on the road.

Illini win over Jackets allows Big Ten to split Challenge with ACC

CHAMPAIGN—Just when it appeared No. 22 Illinois had gone quiet, reserve guard Joseph Bertrand made some noise. The redshirt junior hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and scored every point in a 10-0 run to ignite the Illini to a 75-62 victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday night in an ACC-Big Ten Challenge game. Illinois (8-0) rallied late behind Bertrand, whose one-man show lifted the Illini from a 58-54 deficit late in the second half. They finished the game on a 21-4 run over the final 7:15.

“Until you get to know him, Joe sometimes comes off like a quiet guy, but he’s got some big-time energy,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “I very rarely will watch practice film or game film and say, `Bertrand isn’t playing hard.”‘

Bertrand scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half as the surprising Illini kept up their early-season run. After missing his first season with a knee injury, Bertrand relied upon his athleticism to get to the basket and create scoring opportunities for himself during the last two years. By concentrating on his perimeter game during individual practice sessions over the summer, he’s become tougher to guard.

“It’s really helped my confidence,” Bertrand said. “I’m looking to shoot them more this year. I was driving more last year. I’m looking to do both.”

Bertrand was 6 for 8 from the floor while going 3 of 4 behind the 3-point line.

“He brings a lot of energy off the bench,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “He’s a great athlete. He’s just streaky enough to be dangerous.”

Illinois guard Brandon Paul also scored 15 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists. Tyler Griffey and D.J. Richardson had 14 points apiece. After losing 12 of its last 14 games last season, Illinois is off to a strong start under Groce, who became the only coach since World War II to start his Illini career with eight straight wins.

“If you’d have said, `Hey, would you predict 8-0?’ I wouldn’t have been bold enough to do that,” Groce said.

Kammeon Holsey led Georgia Tech (4-2) with 14 points while Jason Morris and Mfon Udofia scored 10 apiece. The Yellow Jackets appeared to grab control with a 12-3 run midway through the second half for a 54-50 lead before wilting down the stretch.

“Unfortunately for 33 minutes, that was a heck of a game,” Gregory said. “We didn’t play very well at the end. Very similar to our other loss against Cal. We’re just not quite tough enough at the end.”

Illinois entered the week as the nation’s leading 3-point shooting team, making an average of 10.9 per game. The Illini quickly found themselves in a long-distance shooting contest with Georgia Tech.The teams combined to make 6 of 10 from the 3-point line to start the game. But the Illini kept it up, finishing with a season-high 14 3-pointers, one short of the Assembly Hall single-game record. Meanwhile, the Illini also used a 2-3 zone defense for long stretches, something not seen from Illinois in years, but relied on man-to-man defense most of the game.

“Our defense ignited our offense during that 21-4 run,” Groce said. “When we defend like that and get some stops, we can put points on the board in a hurry. That’s what happened to end the game.”

Illinois has a 31-game nonconference winning streak in regular-season games at Assembly Hall. A loss to Dayton in 2011, when Gregory was coaching the Flyers, came in the NIT. Illinois, which relied upon 3-point shooting in its biggest wins this season, used 3-pointers from Richardson and Griffey during an 8-2 run to start the second half for a 44-37 lead. Georgia Tech rallied with two 3-pointers from guard Chris Bolden and a breakaway dunk by Morris for a 54-50 lead with 10:16 left.Georgia Tech was finishing an eight-day trip that took the team to California. After placing third in the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim, the Yellow Jackets were 7 of 10 from the field to grab a 21-15 lead. The lead changed hands six times in a back-and-forth first half, when Illinois shot 46.7 percent from the 3-point line while the Yellow Jackets hit 45.5 from behind the arc.

Ramblers hold off Tennessee Tech

Cully Payne scored 18 points, Ben Averkamp added 16 and Loyola earned an 81-78 victory over Tennessee Tech on Wednesday night.Loyola (5-2) led 38-34 at the break, but went on a 20-10 run to begin the second half capped by Devon Turk’s 3-pointer with 11:44 to play to give the Ramblers a 58-44 lead and they never looked back.The Ramblers came up big from the free-throw line, making 25 of 36. The Golden Eagles were 12 of 13.Tennessee Tech (2-3) made things interesting in the end when Matt Marseille hit a 3-pointer with 9 seconds to play to cut the Ramblers lead to one at 79-78, but Joe Crisman hit a pair of free throws to make it 81-78, and Lanerryl Johnson’s last-ditch 3-pointer missed its mark to end it.Marseille had 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting for the Golden Eagles.

Terps big second half hands Cats first loss in ACC-Big Ten Challenge

EVANSTON—Dez Wells set a career high with 23 points as Maryland blew out Northwestern in the second half en route to a 77-57 win on Tuesday night.A week after Maryland announced it would leave the ACC and join the Big Ten in 2014, the Terrapins and Wildcats faced off in a preview of future conference foes and one of 12 contests in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.Maryland (5-1) led 28-26 at halftime but broke the game open in the second half, scoring on its first 10 possessions. The run stretched the lead to 47-34.Wells finished the spurt by hitting a 3-pointer and going coast-to-coast for a layup after an NU turnover.Wells hurt the Wildcats (6-1) from all spots on the floor, slashing to the basket and stepping back to hit jumpers. He was 9 for 11 from the field with three assists.Reggie Hearn had 19 points and Dave Sobolewski 14 for Northwestern, which was denied a fifth straight ACC/Big Ten Challenge victory.

Flames beat NIU in DeKalb 58-46

DeKALB—Hayden Humes scored 18 points and Daniel Barnes added 11 points and eight rebounds to lead UIC to a 58-46 victory against Northern Illinois 58-46 on Tuesday night.Gary Talton and Josh Crittle had 10 points each for the Flames (5-1), who have won five of the last six games between the teams.Sam Mader scored 15 points for the Huskies (1-4), who shot just 32.7 percent (16 of 49) from the floor.Northern Illinois trailed 27-19 at the break but cut the deficit to five points midway through the second half. But Humes scored five points and Talton four during a 10-2 run that gave UIC a 48-35 cushion with 6:52 remaining, and the Huskies got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.Humes shot 7 of 8 from the field, with two 3-pointers.

Demons hold off Fairfield 85-78

ROSEMONT—Cleveland Melvin matched a career high with 30 points and Brandon Young added 20 as DePaul held off a late Fairfield rally to secure an 85-78 victory Tuesday night.Melvin scored 24 first-half points – including 13 points in the opening 4 minutes – as DePaul (3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak.Chicago native Derek Needham paced Fairfield (3-4) with a career-high 29 points.The Blue Demons quickly pushed their lead to 16 points early in the second half, then held off a late Stags rally capped by a Needham 3-pointer that cut the lead to 78-73 with 2:03 left in regulation.Charles McKinney and Donnavan Kirk had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Blue Demons. Amadou Sidibe had 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Fairfield.

Bulls blow 27 point lead(with 3 min left in 3rd quarter), lose to Bucks 93-92

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

The Milwaukee Bucks had everything working against them late in the third quarter — a 27-point deficit, a nine-game skid against the Bulls and a flurry of 3-pointers by the Bulls, the league’s worst deep-shooting team.So Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles cleared the bench and watched his reserves tear off a 31-4 run, leading the Bucks to a stunning 93-92 comeback win over the Bulls on Monday night that snapped a three-game losing streak.Ersan Ilyasova scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to lead the comeback, including 12 in the fourth quarter when Milwaukee outscored the Bulls 30-12 to prevent the Bulls from taking over first place in the Central Division. The first-place Bucks lead the Bulls by 1 1/2 games.

“We got different guys in the game,” Skiles said. “They played very well together, played with a lot of energy, played some good defense.”

Milwaukee played the entire fourth quarter with the same five reserves: Ilyasova, Epke Udoh, Beno Udrih, Mike Dunleavy and Doron Lamb.

“It can happen fast,” Tom Thibodeau said. “You can lose 10 points in an NBA game in a minute. Everyone says that doesn’t happen, but you see it all the time. If you don’t play tough with a lead, this is what happens.”

Richard Hamilton scored a season-high 30 points for the Bulls but missed a shot at the buzzer that would have won it.John Henson, Udrih and Udoh all scored 11 points, while Monta Ellis added 10. Udoh added six rebounds and five of Milwaukee’s 12 blocked shots.

“It’s one of those games where we just played well defensively,” Ilysova said. “We didn’t let them score, and we just got opportunities and made some tough shots. We closed 27 points — in an NBA game that’s not easy.”

The Bucks hadn’t beaten the Bulls since April 6, 2010.

“We played terrible,” Bulls forward Luol Deng said. “I gotta look at it again, but we’re not playing like how we need to play. We’re not playing like how we used to play.”

Hamilton was coming off a then-season-high 22 points in the Bulls 93-86 win at Milwaukee on Saturday. Kirk Hinrich added a season-best 17 points and six assists.The Bulls had one final chance after Dunleavy turned the ball over on an inbound pass under the Milwaukee basket with 7.5 seconds left. Udoh knocked the ball out of bounds reaching for Dunleavy’s pass, and Chicago called a timeout.

“We just wanted to fight back and make it a great game,” Lamb said. “We did that and came all the way back and got a lead. We told ourselves we could win the game.”

Hamilton took an inbound pass and worked his way to the foul line, but missed a fadeaway over Lamb as time expired, the ball bouncing off the side of the rim.Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Deng added 10 points and eight boards.

“It’s tough, man,” Boozer said. “I wish we could go back out there and finish it differently.”

The game was reminiscent of the biggest lead the Bulls ever blew at home, a 35-point advantage in a home loss to the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 21, 2009.Hamilton and Boozer combined for 17 points in the third quarter as the Bulls seemingly blew the game open.The Bulls outscored Milwaukee 28-13 in the third and opened the 27-point lead on Hinrich’s 3-pointer with 2:50 to go in the quarter. That gave Hinrich his season high for points, just the third time he’s reached double digits this season.Just before Hinrich’s 3, the Bulls third 3-pointer in less than 2 minutes, Skiles inserted Ilyasova, Lamb and Udrih into the game, the last time he substituted.

“No, I never thought of putting the starters back in,” Skiles said. “There was a noticeable uptick in our pressure and we weren’t giving up offensive rebounds, and we got off on the break with that group that was in there.”

Hamilton scored eight of his 17 first-half points in the second quarter as the Bulls took a 48-40 lead at halftime.Milwaukee hit just 20 percent from 3-point range (3 of 15). The Bucks entered the game shooting 16 percent from beyond the arc over their last three games (10 of 62).That didn’t matter behind a group of reserves who outscored the Bulls bench 56-10.

“We were very loose with the lead at the end of the third quarter,” Thibodeau said. “That game changed in about 4-5 minutes, at the end of the third quarter and to the fourth. We couldn’t stop it.You’ve got to play 48 minutes in this league, and we’ve still got a long ways to go in that area.”

NOTES—Henson got his first NBA start for the Bucks, starting in place of Ilyasova. He led Milwaukee with 11 first-half points, but didn’t score in the second half….. Brandon Jennings started despite spraining his left ankle toward the end of Saturday’s game. He scored six points. Jennings, who is leading the league in steals, failed to record one in a game for the first time this season…..The Bucks shot 45.9 percent from the field and have shot 50 percent or better just once in their last 34 games against the Bulls, dating to March 26, 2004. The Bulls have won 24 of those games.

Irish rout CSU 92-65

SOUTH BEND—Jerian Grant scored 22 points to lead red-hot Notre Dame to a 92-65 win over Chicago State on Monday night.The Irish (6-1) took a 51-32 lead into the break, thanks largely to their blistering accuracy from 3-point land. They hit 10 of 16 3-point attempts in the first half, a 62.5-percent clip.Scott Martin and Cameron Biedscheid each hit 3 of 5 3-point attempts for the Irish. They finished 12 of 22, or 55 percent, from behind the arc, and 61 percent overall.Grant hit a strong baseline drive and drew a foul, then made the free throw, to give Notre Dame its then-biggest lead, 42-27, with 3:20 to go in the half. Moments later, he stole an inbound pass near the top of the Chicago State key and drove the length of the floor for an electrifying windmill dunk.Clarke Rosenberg led the Cougars (1-6) with 16 points.