Murphy struggles in return to Jersey
By BRIAN KESSLER
Tuesday's showdown with Big East foe Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., was supposed to be a homecoming for Notre Dame standout Troy Murphy.
Instead, the sophomore forward, who hails from Sparta, N.J., received a rude awakening.
From the player introductions to posting up in the paint, Murphy was harassed by Scarlet Knight fans and players alike. And the rest of the Irish didn't fare much better.
Rutgers (10-6, 2-2) jumped out to a 11-0 lead to start the game and never looked back, routing Notre Dame (11-7, 2-2) 76-51. Rutgers freshman Todd Billet single-handedly outscored the Irish in the first half. The Scarlet Knight point guard put up 20 points in the first 20 minutes and gave Rutgers a 32-16 lead at the break.
The 16 points allowed in the first half were the fewest in school history for Rutgers.
Billet finished with 31 points for the game and connected on a school-record eight 3-pointers. As a team, Rutgers made 13-of-22 three pointers and shot 46 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame struggled, shooting a season-low 30 percent and a dismal 22 percent from beyond the arc. The Irish were also out-rebounded 40-28.
Murphy, the nation's second leading scorer with 24.9 points per game, drew double and triple teams all game and finished with just 18 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Rutgers' Roshod Kent held Murphy in check most of the game. Murphy's frustration showed in the end when he was hit with a technical foul and fouled out with 1:26 left.
Freshman Matt Carroll was the lone bright spot for the Irish, connecting on five of eight shots for 13 points. David Graves was just 1-of-11, but had eight rebounds. Jimmy Dillon was 0-for-4 and had five assists and five turnovers. The Irish bench combined for just 11 points in nearly 41 minutes of play.
Eugene Dabney had a career-high 11 rebounds for Rutgers. Michael Thompson had 10 points.
The loss was Notre Dame's second in a row. On Sunday, the Irish saw their seven-game winning streak snapped at Syracuse.
Notre Dame now returns to the Joyce Center for a four-game homestand. It hosts Pittsburgh Saturday at noon.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, January 19, 19100