Notre Dame men survive Princeton upset scare in NCAA opener

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Princeton sent a cross-court inbounds pass to set up a Tiger with a three from the left corner with 20 seconds to play and three points to make up. CBS will broadcast the game live.

Wow, this was way too close for comfort for Notre Dame fans, and unfortunate for everyone at home who had become Princeton fans over the course of the game. Still, the Irish could not pull away thanks to sloppy turnovers and solid defense from Princeton, who denied every Irish attack at the rim while minimizing Notre Dame's three-point attempts.

Notre Dame should be in confident mood; they are the only team to reach the Elite Eight of the last two March Madness tournaments, and they will not be fazed the challenge ahead of them.

"Our defensive intelligence can really help us against a group like this and it has all year", Brey said. "We deliver when the lights are brightest".

Princeton's Devin Cannady could've won the game with this 3-pointer in the closing seconds. But it also has a roster of players comfortable with the late-game situations that define the tournament.

Mike Daum, who entered the tournament as the nation's second-leading scorer at 25.3 points per game, scored 17 points to lead South Dakota State.

The Irish, who started the season for the first time ever at No. 1 in the AP Top 25, were dominated at home by top-ranked CT 72-61 in early December, were beaten at North Carolina State 70-62 in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener later that month and lost 71-69 at Tennessee in mid-January.

So six tournament wins in two seasons is a big deal, especially at a university known as a football school. However, just after the timeout, the Tigers failed to capitalize on the momentum; they went through a scoring drought of almost six minutes and the Irish were able to regain the lead and pull ahead.

"He certainly was the difference", Brey said. "We can draw on those experiences".

But the Tigers know how to win, they're red hot and they can knock down threes, plus play great defense. "But I think he's going to start turning it up". "Go out there and have fun".

"I'm not a Notre Dame fan", Joe Ravotto, another former teammate said.

"Said Weisz, the Ivy League player of the year: "(The Irish) were experienced in the moment.

"I was really tight", he said. And we got - this team has been punched in the face a little bit throughout the course of the season, but they always respond. The Irish survived by making the little plays when they counted most-while turning it over only six times (the same number as Saturday night against Duke and fewest since the season opener in November). "They've prepared themselves. I just don't want them tied up in knots".

As calm as they were, mind you, the Irish ultimately found their destiny in someone else's hands, in the bounce of a ball en route to a basket with the clock running down, in a make-or-miss instant that had the potential to change lives - or, at the very least, weekend plans. "We're a confident group and we use that as motivation to take that next step". The great thing about the NCAA Tournament, you've got a day in-between to get that thing right again.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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