College basketball roundup: Notre Dame holds off IPFW, 74-62

December 18, 2012 

Pat Connaughton scored 18 points to lead No. 22 Notre Dame to a 74-62 victory over IPFW on Monday night at South Bend, Ind.

Connaughton more than doubled his 7.9 points-per-game average and had six rebounds and five assists.

"I think it was just a matter of playing the whole game," Connaughton said, referring to the quality rather than quantity of his minutes. "It's something I've been waiting to do. Attacking the basketball. It's something people have been harping on me to do, and it's something that's going to help the team."

Connaughton was 7-for-9 from the field, repeatedly driving strong to the hoop and taking his defenders off the dribble with apparent ease.

"That was the goal," said the 6-foot-5 sophomore who plays both guard and forward. "The easiest shots are nearest the basket. That's something I've always thought, and that's just something I needed to bring from practice to the game."

His finger roll in the lane off an assist by Jerian Grant made it 23-14 with 8:24 left in the first half.

He hit a layup while drawing a foul with 5 seconds left in the first half, then hit the free throw to increase Irish lead to 12.

"You're really between a rock and a hard place defending him," IPFW Coach Tony Jasick said. "If you don't help, the other guys get to the basket, and if you do stay and help, they are good at finding him."

Notre Dame (10-1) led 40-28 at halftime then opened the second half with a 9-5 run over the first 4:21, capped by a two-handed stuff by Jack Cooley off a full-court fastbreak pass from Jerian Grant. The Irish extended their lead to 19 points on a layup by Garrick Sherman with 13:35 to play.

Luis Jacobo and Joe Edwards both scored 11 points for the Mastodons (5-7).

No. 12 Missouri 102, South Carolina St. 51: Jabari Brown, playing in his first game since Nov. 17, 2011, when he was a freshman at Oregon, scored 12 points and Missouri (9-1) won at home. Brown, 6-foot-5, 205-pound guard, became eligible at the end of the first semester.

Connecticut 84, Maryland-Eastern Shore 50: Freshman Omar Calhoun scored a season-high 22 points and Ryan Boatright had 21 for host Connecticut (8-2). Calhoun and Boatright combined to score 15 of UConn's first 17 points in the second half.

Pikeville 112, St. Andrews 63: Pikeville, ranked No. 4 in NAIA, hit 58.6 percent of it shots to improve to 13-1 this season. Jamar Briscoe scored 32 points, including going 6-for-11 from three-point range. He added six rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Trevor Setty (Mason County) added 20 points to go with six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Elisha Justice, a Louisville transfer and former Mr. Basketball from Shelby Valley, made his regular-season debut for the Tigers. He had three points, five rebounds, three steals and one assist.

Taylor (Ind.) 68, Berea 52: Deon Banks came off the bench to score a team-high 11 points for Berea. Aaron Ponder (Madison Southern) had six assists.

Duke new No. 1 in AP poll

Duke is back in a familiar place — No. 1. The Blue Devils advanced one spot to replace Indiana at the top of The Associated Press' Top 25 on Monday, drawing closer to UCLA's record for most No. 1 rankings.

Duke has reached No. 1 at least once in a record 16 seasons under Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and has played more games as the No. 1 ranked team in 33 years under Coach K (209) than as an unranked team (141).

"We're proud of it. I think it's a lot different than a pre-season ranking," forward Mason Plumlee said. "We feel like we've earned it, not like we've been given anything. (But) if we don't get any better during the season, we're not going to be No. 1 at the end of the season."

Indiana (9-1) held the top spot from the pre-season poll through the first five weeks of the season. Butler beat the Hoosiers 88-86 Saturday.

Butler won't rule out move

Two days after telling The Associated Press he wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of joining a new conference, Butler President James Danko issued a statement that will likely keep the conference realignment talk buzzing.

"Our administrators, our coaches, our trustees and our team will continue to do what is right for Butler and its students," he said. "Decisions will be made, first and foremost, with the university's strong values and the Butler Way at heart. Our uncompromising commitments to integrity, to placing one's team above oneself, and to the academic and personal growth of each of our student-athletes will remain paramount."

In other words, the school is keeping its options open.

When word leaked last week that seven Catholic schools in the Big East were looking to leave the conference and form their own league, Butler was one of the first names to pop up as a possible new member. Since then, the parties involved have done nothing to dissuade such talk.

An Atlantic 10 spokesman said the league was not prepared to immediately respond to the reports, and Butler Athletics Director Barry Collier declined to comment on any potential move.

Some reports have indicated Xavier and Butler, both of the Atlantic 10, are two schools the "Catholic 7" would like to include in a 10- or 12-team league, even though Butler is not a Catholic institution and would likely be one of the smaller schools in the new conference.

What Butler does have, though, is a national reputation as a strong basketball school, a city with an NBA arena that could host the conference tourney and a television market in a basketball-crazed state that could be an attractive option for a network.

Women's highlights

Muskingum (Ohio) 68, Transylvania 60: Nicole Coffman (Casey County) had 18 points, five steals and three assists in the Pioneers' loss at home. Alex Botkin (Lexington Catholic) and Madisen Webb (Scott County) added 12 points and three steals apiece.

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