Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey has a scheduling conflict on Jan. 7.
His school’s undefeated football team will play in the BCS national championship game that night against either Alabama or Georgia, but his own basketball team is due to play a Big East game in Cincinnati.
When ESPN’s Dick Vitale joked on air with Brey that he should have the basketball game moved to Jan. 6, Brey cracked, “I may get thrown out at halftime and end up in an Irish bar in Cincinnati.”
Brey was in a jubilant mood after his Fighting Irish handled No. 8 Kentucky, 64-50, Thursday night in the Big East/SEC Challenge in South Bend behind Eric Atkins’s 16 points and 13 apiece from Jack Cooley and Jerian Grant.
“I think tonight was a big night,” Atkins said. “We were ready all summer just talking about this game and getting up for this game. It doesn’t surprise me the energy we brought tonight.”
Students rushed the floor after the Irish wrapped up their second win over the Wildcats in the past 13 meetings.
Kentucky guard Julius Mays, who led the Wildcats (4-2) with 16 points, said his young team may have been intimidated somewhat by the boisterous environment at Notre Dame that included Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te’o firing up the crowd and sweeping the floor during breaks.
“We all better get used to it,” Mays said. “It’s going to be on a night-in, night-out basis. I feel like the crowd is going to be like this everywhere we go.”
(The AP contributed reporting)