SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame guard Tory Jackson expected West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler to take the last shot for the win and made sure he got a hand in his face.
``My hand was so close to him he could smell what I ate,' Jackson said.
Butler, who hit a winning 3 at the buzzer against Marquette on Dec. 29, couldn't do it again against the Fighting Irish. His shot at the buzzer rolled around the rim and out and Notre Dame, which led by 22 early in the second half, held on for a 70-68 victory over the eighth-ranked Mountaineers on Saturday night.
``He has made shots like that before. It almost went in,' West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.
The Irish (14-3, 3-1 Big East) were 14 of 20 on free throws in the final 11:20, while West Virginia was 2 of 4 for the game. It was the second straight game where the Irish pulled out a win in the closing seconds. Luke Harangody, who led the Irish with 24 points against West Virginia, hit the winning free throw with 1.9 seconds left against South Florida on Tuesday after the Irish squandered a 13-point second-half lead.
``I think we have a pretty mentally tough group, a poised group,' Irish coach Mike Brey said. ``Both nights, Tuesday night and tonight, you could panic a little bit and wonder.'
The Mountaineers (12-2, 3-1) got back in it by hitting 9 of 19 3-pointers in the second half, closing to 67-66 on a shot from behind the arc by Dalton Pepper with 4:50 left. But Harangody muscled his way in down low to score inside to give the Irish a 3-point lead.
After Pepper missed a 3, Jackson hit a free throw with 3:25 left to make it 70-66. After Jackson missed a pair of 3-pointers, Joe Mazzulla banked in a shot inside to cut the lead to two, but the Moutaineers couldn't hit the last shot.
Tim Abromaitis added 17 points for the Irish, who didn't have a basket from the floor in the last 4 minutes. Tyrone Nash added 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting, all in the first half.
Kevin Jones led the Mountaineers with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Butler was 4 of 20, 3 of 12 from 3-point range, and finished with 13 points. Darryl Bryant scored all of his 11 points in the second half, after going 0 for 6 in the first.
Devin Ebanks, who averages 13.3 points a game, played just three minutes in the second half. Huggins said he switched his lineup and Mazzulla played well.
``Maz came in gave us good minutes,' he said.
The Fighting Irish dominated early, hitting their first nine shots to open a 25-4 lead on an outside jumper by Harangody. The Moutaineers went 2 for 16 from the floor during that span, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range.
The Mountaineers used runs of 11-0 and 10-2 in the second half to get back in the game.
The Irish were without junior forward Carleton Scott, normally the second guy off the bench, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence. He was averaging 3.8 points and rebounds and 15 minutes a game.
Freshman Joey Brooks played in his place, playing 9 minutes and finishing with five points.
It was West Virginia's second loss in nine days in Indiana. Purdue beat the Mountaineers 77-62 on New Year's Day.
The Associated Press News Service
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