- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

The BB&T; Classic was supposed to be a story about second-ranked Texas and No.9 Maryland. Notre Dame wrote and carried out its own plot.
The Fighting Irish claimed the title with 98-92 win over Texas yesterday after dethroning Maryland the day before. Notre Dame came into the week unranked and relatively unheralded. That was before a trio of upsets including knocking off No.13 Marquette on Monday had Irish eyes looking onto the national scene.
"I can't quite digest this week yet," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, whose team should jump deep into the polls today. "We did a lot of growing up. I think this group, from a leadership standpoint from the older guys, entered the week very focused on a chance to make some noise. And we did do that."
The Irish (8-1) blew a 12-point lead and trailed by five late before pulling out a thrilling victory. A 3-pointer by Chris Thomas gave Notre Dame a 85-83 lead with 2:06 remaining, and Notre Dame made free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.
Torin Francis led Notre Dame with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Dan Miller and Matt Carroll each added 20 points. The Irish made 13 of 27 3-pointers, with Thomas (19 points) and Miller each canning four.
"They are a very intelligent, offensive basketball team," said Texas' Sydmill Harris, who had 25 points. "They did a good job knocking down their shots and moving around without the ball. All I can do is give them credit."
Texas (5-1) dropped its first game despite a spectacular effort from point guard T.J. Ford, the tournament's MVP who finished with 21 points and 12 assists. Harris came off the bench to make six of six 3-pointers. The Longhorns made 56 percent of their 3s, but couldn't overcome 21 turnovers.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame committed only nine turnovers and was precise in spreading the court and getting open looks while Thomas (eight assists) ran the offense.
The Longhorns used a 22-7 run and took a 71-68 lead on Ford's 3-point play with 10:12 remaining. Texas went ahead by as many as six and led 83-78 on a layup by Deginald Erskin with 4:02 left. Two free throws by Francis and Torrian Jones' layup cut the margin to one, and the Irish took the lead after Miller got an offensive rebound and found Thomas.
"Chris yelled at the top of the key and I heard him," said Miller, a fifth-year senior who transferred from Maryland. "I just gave it to him. It was a huge momentum builder for us."
Ford missed a twisting layup, and Francis added two free throws. Ford drove the lane the next time down and was blocked. Miller took full advantage by nailing a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Irish a 90-83 with 1:20 remaining.
Texas cut it to 94-92 with 26 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Brian Boddicker, but Thomas made two free throws to secure an upset that will launch the Fighting Irish into the college basketball spotlight.

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