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Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Defense slows Murphy

Pre-season All-American scores season-low 15 points

SOUTH BEND -- Junior Notre Dame forward Troy Murphy is no secret. It's hard to hide a 6-foot-11 player who averages 26.8 points and nine rebounds per game, and the Hoosiers (4-3) knew their defense would be crucial against the No. 10-ranked Irish (4-1).\nFreshmen forwards Jared Jeffries and Jeffrey Newton shared the role of covering Murphy with junior forward Kirk Haston in Tuesday night's 86-78 upset against Notre Dame in the Joyce Center.\nIU was able to slow Murphy and the three players combined to frustrate the reigning Big East Player of the Year. Murphy finished with a season-low 15 points and was held to 3-of-8 for 10 points from the field in the first half.\n"I feel that defensively, we can compete with anyone," Interim head coach MikeDavis said. "Murphy is a really good basketball player, and we talked about defending him in the post and Jeffries and Newton getting a hand up in his face."\nJeffries and Newton came through, holding Murphy to only two field goals in the second half. Jeffries, who had 14 points and a block, said a player his size should be able to defend anyone.\n"He might be the best player in America, and if I can slow him down and help the team, I will," Jeffries said. "I feel I can stop anyone."\nNewton, who leads the team with 18 blocked shots, finished with three against the Irish. He said he's been looking forward to the matchup with Murphy since the beginning of the season.\n"It gives you a good sense of where you're at," Newton said. "We were always trying to find where he was at all times."\nWhile strong defense is nothing new for Jeffries and Newton, Haston is a strong needs to sharpen his defense skills, Davis said. Tuesday was Haston's first time back on the court since the Indiana State game Nov. 29 and the first time he wasn't in the starting lineup.\nHaston sat on the bench for the entire game against Southern Illinois because he has a minor injury to a toe. Haston could've played then, Davis said, but he thought it was the perfect opportunity for Haston to learn from a strong defensive performance from Jeffries and Newton.\n"That put pressure on Haston to come out and really work defensively," Davis said. "Offensively, he's really good, but we need tough, hard-nosed defense. Sometimes you can learn a lot from just sitting there and watching. Sometimes when you sit and watch, it will help."\nBy the second half, Haston was assigned to watch senior forward Ryan Humphrey, Notre Dame's second leading scorer with an average of 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Humphrey led the team with 17 points.\nThe defense held the Irish to 38 percent from the field and has held its opponents to 39.5 percent from the field this season.\nThis is only the third Hoosier squad since 1967 that has held opponents under 40 percent from the field. Last year's team did it (38.8 percent) and the 1971-1972 team did it (39.8 percent).

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