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Irish Insights

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Irish enjoy ranking, rest

Notre Dame is ranked for the first time in a year.

The Irish, who defeated Indiana State 81-72 Tuesday night in Purcell Pavilion, broke into The Associated Press Top 25 at No. 25 on Monday.

Coach Mike Brey said he told his team to enjoy the ranking.

“I said, ‘You know how the coaches always go the rankings don't mean anything.' I said, ‘BS. I'm very proud of were you are and getting us in. You enjoy this moment,' ” Brey said. “Now understand it and use it to get you confident. I felt it was important for this group to feel they've achieved. I think they can understand, OK now we got to get back to work.

“I'm proud of them that they earned it. They deserve it. I think they will handle it the right way. (Tuesday night) was good example of handling it the right way.”

Notre Dame needed every ounce of its experience to survive Indiana State on Tuesday.

The Irish, who won three games in four days in Orlando to win the Old Spice Classic over the Thanksgiving weekend, were not able to create separation from the Sycamores until closing the first half on a 7-2 run for a 38-33 halftime advantage.

Notre Dame came out in the second half just as strong going on an 8-2 run for a 46-35 lead.

“We kind of came out expecting to win. We didn't play to win,” said Irish guard Ben Hansbrough, who scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. “In the second half we cranked it up a little bit.”

Notre Dame will get some time to down shift before it faces a challenging two-game stretch.

The Irish will travel to play Kentucky in Louisville on Dec. 8, and they play host to Gonzaga on Dec. 11.

Brey said the team will take Wednesday off, have a partial practice Thursday, have a full practice Friday and take Saturday off before getting back into a full scheduled on Sunday.

“I think we need rest a lot, get away from the game a little bit,” Irish forward Tyrone Nash said. “Stay focused mentally, but physically, we need to get our legs back under us.

“I've been taking a beating all week. Everybody's been taking a beating. We get to go hang out in the Jacuzzi and just relax and get ready for next week.”

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