for this game

Notre Dame advances despite late push by Texas

Nov 26, 2008 - 6:11 AM LAHAINA, Hawaii (Ticker) -- The difference between Notre Dame and not Texas going to the championship game of the Maui Invitational ended up being a couple of inches.

Luke Harangody scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as eighth-ranked Notre Dame survived a frantic comeback from No. 7 Texas for an 81-80 victory in Tuesday's semifinals of the preseason tournament.

The Fighting Irish (4-0) held an 81-74 lead with 31 seconds to play after Tory Jackson made a pair of free throws. However, the Longhorns quickly sliced that deficit to one after 3-pointers by both A.J. Abrams and Justin Mason.

A pair of missed free throws by Notre Dame's Zach Hillesland enabled the Texas comeback.

With his team nursing the lead, Harangody was fouled on an inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds left, but missed both attempts at the line, giving the Longhorns a shot for the win.

Gary Johnson rebounded Harangody's second miss from the stripe and quickly found Abrams, who connected on his 300th career 3-pointer only minutes before. The senior guard turned to race up the court before unleashing a heave from right before halfcourt that hit the front of the rim, giving the Fighting Irish quite a scare.

"For the fourth game of the season in November, what a great college game with two really good teams throwing big punches at each other," Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey said.

"They're really good and we took a lot of body blows. But we hung in there and found a way to win it. Our maturity and age showed. We did some smart things to win a basketball game."

The late free throw issues were part of a game-long problem for Notre Dame, which made just 10-of-21 (48 percent) attempts.

Still, Brey believes that the issue will work itself out.

"I still think we're going to be great from the line when it's all said and done," Brey said.

Kyle McAlarney scored 19 points and Jackson finished with 14 for Notre Dame, which advanced to face top-ranked North Carolina in Wednesday's championship game. The Tar Heels rolled to a 98-69 victory over Oregon.

If they are going to knock off the top team in the country, the Irish are going to need another big game from Harangody, who did it from just about everywhere.

The 6-8 junior shot 11-of-21 from the field, including a 3-pointer he banked in after picking up a loose ball and beating the shot clock for a 66-60 lead with 7:47 to play.

Harangody added a jumper to make it 75-67 with 2:40 remaining as Notre Dame appeared to be in control.

"They're experienced and they're skilled and they've been together," Texas coach Rick Barnes said of Notre Dame. "On any given night, they can beat any basketball team in the country. They play in a great league and they've got guys who have been through the wars."

However, Texas then connected on three of its last five 3-pointers to rally back, including two from Abrams. Prior to that, the Longhorns had been 5-of-20 (25 percent) from the arc.

"We did such a good job of defending the line the whole game," Brey said. "You're waiting for a flurry like that. You're doing the best you can."

Abrams ended up with 20 points and four 3-pointers for Texas (3-1), which will be aiming for a third-place finish in the tournament when it faces Oregon on Wednesday.

Mason had 16 points, including a big 3-pointer with six seconds left that was his first of the season. The junior guard also handed out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds.

Damion James chipped in 11 points and 12 boards for the Longhorns, who controlled the glass with a 48-37 advantage.