SOUTH BEND | Notre Dame hosted basketball royalty Sunday afternoon, as Michael Jordan sat high in Purcell Pavilion, watching his son Marcus, a freshman guard at Central Florida.
"He probably saw a little bit of himself in Tim Abromaitis," Irish point guard Tory Jackson cracked after the game.
In his first career start, Abromaitis poured in 31 points on an efficient 17 shots to lead Notre Dame (8-1) to a 90-72 victory. Andrean grad Luke Harangody added 29 and seven rebounds, and Notre Dame outscored Central Florida (6-2) by 18 in the second half in what is becoming a trademark part of its game.
"I don't know what it is, but we just come out there and pick up the defensive intensity," Harangody said of his team's second-half performances at home this season. "This is a big win for us."
The win capped an eventful weekend for Harangody, who was the guest of honor at his alma mater Saturday night when Andrean hosted Lew Wallace. The former 59er had his No. 40 Andrean jersey framed -- he wears No. 44 at Notre Dame -- and took in the night's festivities with both Irish senior forward Tim Andree and former Notre Dame forward Zach Hillesland.
"That was a great night. It was a lot of great memories from Andrean," Harangody said. "It was a really neat experience, they did it up really nice."
UCF was expected to give the Irish some trouble, but the Knights got trouble of their own from Abromaitis.
The junior forward redshirted last season and had been coach Mike Brey's sixth man so far this year. After registering double-digit scoring in seven of Notre Dame's eight contests before Sunday's, Brey felt it time to give Abromaitis a start.
"He keeps answering every bell," Brey said, citing consistency as one of Abromaitis' greatest strengths. "He comes out the same even-keeled guy every day."
Abromaitis' impressive performance aside, the game was not without incident.
The Irish held their collective breath when senior point guard Tory Jackson went to the ground in pain after rolling his ankle on a defender following a shot in the second half.
He was helped to the locker room but came back out under his own power, and both player and coach said after the game that Jackson was unlikely to miss much time.
Notre Dame 90, Central Florida 72
Tim Abromaitis and Luke Harangody led the Irish with 31 and 29 points, respectively.
See if Times online voters believe Luke Harangody is the best Andrean player ever. PAGE C2
Indiana's women's team beats No. 22 Michigan State. PAGE C9
E.C. Central grad Dee Dee Jernigan helps No. 9 Xavier prevail. PAGE C9