Men’s Big East Notebook: Notre Dame Resurrected

Somewhere in South Bend, Ind. you'll find a dug up grave-site, complete with rusty shovels and a pried-open casket. Footprints left by Luke Harangody and company lead from the burial ground – Notre Dame is back from the dead.

A horrifying seven-game losing streak dropped the Fighting Irish from a top-ranked contender to a laughable afterthought, but after weeks of agony and uninspired play, Notre Dame has shown some life. Led by Harangody and the dead-on 3-point precision of Kyle McAlarney, the Irish surged past now-No. 6 Louisville Cardinals 90-57 on Feb. 12 to end the nightmarish skid.

They've posted a 3-1 record since then, including an offensive outburst against a run-and-gun Providence team in a 103-84 win. With upcoming home games against Villanova and St. Johns, Notre Dame could be looking at a NCAA Tourney birth.

"We're just trying to scratch our way to the end of the Big East season," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "There's a lot of basketball left to be played."

Notre Dame and Big East foe Georgetown have both experienced historic falls from grace this season. They were both ranked top-15 early in the year and have now plummeted out of the rankings completely. While the Hoyas continue to struggle, Notre Dame has been climbing out of basketball purgatory one inch at a time and is in striking distance of the elusive .500 mark in the Big East.

"I think we're passed that feeling we had on our losing streak," Brey said. "We have a better frame of mind, and we're ready to compete. We're going to have dig to get to .500."

After digging out of their graves, .500 seems like a done deal.

Proving its worth

The Providence Friars rarely get any attention in the star-studded Big East. They will now.

After taking down DeJuan Blair and No. 1 Pittsburgh Tuesday night, the team that has flown under the radar all season has finally taken center stage. The win was as historic as it was unlikely. It was the first time in 33 years that Providence had beaten a No. 1 ranked team and only the second time in school history.

For the top-ranked Panthers, the game was a monumental letdown – it was less than a week ago that they toppled then-No. 1 Connecticut on the road and regained the top spot in the polls. But despite the loss, Pittsburgh remains in prime position to be a No. 1 seed come March. For the Friars, the game was much more meaningful – the team was fighting for postseason survival.

"It puts us in the conversation," Providence coach Keno Davis said. "If we lost I don't think they would be talking about us anymore."

Weyinmi Efejuku scored 16 points for the Friars, who took a 20-point lead early and then withstood a late Pittsburgh surge to notch the victory. Providence moved to 17-11 on the year.

Player of the week

It's never easy to go on the road and steal a victory away from the home team, but Louisville senior Terrence Williams helped his team do it twice in one week.

The forward posted averages of 18.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals a game.

Winning at home has really been the only consistent theme in the tumultuous Big East, but Williams and the rest of the Louisville bandits have stolen the final bit of normalcy from the unpredictable conference.

Game of the Week

Notre Dame at Connecticut, Feb. 28, 2 p.m.

The whirling dervish of redemption continues for Notre Dame as it travels to Storrs to play No. 2 Connecticut. The Irish could cement their place in the NCAA Tournament with a miraculous victory on the road.

The Huskies already administer their own brand of justice by redeeming a loss to Pittsburgh last week with a 93-82 defeat of Marquette. Against Notre Dame, Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien will try to contain Big East's points king Luke Harangody in the paint.

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