At The Half: Notre Dame 33, Xavier 31

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There's a date with Lehigh (yes, Lehigh) on the line tonight. After the Mountain Hawks shocked the college basketball world by downing Duke in the Tar Heel State, Notre Dame and Xavier tipped off in the final game of the night at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The Irish got off to a slow start, but avoided falling into a big hole, thanks to back-to-back threes from Eric Atkins and Scott Martin.

After a Jack Cooley three-point play, Notre Dame took the lead briefly, but Xavier responded with an 8-0 run.

The Irish battled back and with under four minutes to play, used a 7-0 spurt to grab a five-point lead.

But as expected, the Musketeers responded and tied the score at 29.

Notre Dame took a four-point lead, but a late dunk from Kenny Frease cut it to 33-31 - where it stands at the break.

All seven players who've entered the game for the Irish have scored. Jack Cooley leads with 9 points, while Martin has added 8.

Tom Knight has four points off the bench for the Fighting Irish, but what stands out in his six minutes of play are the perfect pass he made to a cutting Pat Connaughton and the charge he took on the other end. At tournament time, it's always great to see the little things that may not show up in a box score.

It's a quiet crowd in the Coliseum, which I think is due in part to Blue Devils fans leaving in disbelief, but it can also probably be attributed to the late start. Even though it's a Friday night, 10:15 pm isn't exactly family friendly.

In the second half, the Irish will look to contain Frease and continue to shut down Mark Lyons. We've seen nine lead changes and three ties already, so don't expect either team to run away with it tonight. After all, this is the NCAA tournament.

More updates coming on Twitter at @theUNDblogger and after the game, right here on Irish UNDerground.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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