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No. 6 Notre Dame Sneaks By Valparaiso
Irish are off to their best start in 24 years.

By NANCY ARMOUR
AP Sports Writer

CHICAGO - There were no buzzer-beating heroics for Valparaiso this time.

Greg Tonagel missed a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left, and No. 6 Notre Dame came up with the ball in the scrum afterward to seal a 55-53 victory over Valparaiso on Saturday at the United Center.

"We were very fortunate to get out of here with a win," Irish coach Mike Brey said.

Matt Carroll led Notre Dame with 14, and Dan Miller and Torin Francis added 12 each. Francis also had 10 rebounds as Notre Dame won its eighth straight.

At 12-1, the Irish are off to their best start in 24 years, matching the mark of the 1978-79 squad.

But with 13 turnovers and shooting less than 44 percent, this was hardly a stellar effort for the Irish. And it certainly won't cut it Monday night, when they visit No. 2 Pittsburgh for their Big East opener.

"This makes us a little bit hungry going into Big East play," Carroll said. "We got the win and we've got to look at that. That's the key."

But Valparaiso made Notre Dame work for it. The Crusaders provided one of the NCAA tournament's all-time highlights in 1998 when Bryce Drew hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to stun fourth-seeded Mississippi.

After trailing the Irish by as many as 14 points in the second half, the Crusaders were looking for another big shot.

"They have a history of rising to the occasion on afternoons like this," Brey said.
Look out for the Irish. They will make some noise come tourney time.
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