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February 7, 2011
It had everything and nothing to do with the former Notre Dame All-American.
Late in Sunday afternoon's 76-69 grinding down of Rutgers at the Purcell Pavilion, Carleton Scott heaved an off-balance shot at the basket pre-ready for his own rebound. That board gave Scott his fourth career Big East double-double, a regular stat line for Luke Harangody.
Except the Boston Celtic forward never threw down his put backs with NBA slam dunk contest style. Scott did, bringing the Joyce Center crowd to its feet, which he did about a half-dozen other times as the Irish moved to 19-4 overall and 8-3 in the Big East.
"I'll start tipping the ball to myself," Scott laughed. "I'll do the Gody. We used to tease him about that all the time, 'You used to tip the ball up there five times to pad your stats!' I'm learning that from him."
Scott, who posted 12 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and one steal as Notre Dame won its fifth straight in the Big East, needed no such instruction from a forward who played below the rim. Not only did Scott change the arena's vibe with that put back dunk with three minutes left, a few possessions earlier he did it with two blocks on one possession that triggered a Notre Dame fast break.
In a game where the Irish led by only two midway through the second half, Notre Dame needed every bit of Scott's explosion.
Rutgers got into character after halftime by reverting to its usual driving offense. That's when Scott anchored the Irish zone defense and gave the Scarlet Knights too much to think about when they got into the lane.
"I think whenever you have someone down there that's blocking shots it makes their team think about it and second guess themselves when maybe they'd go right up before," said Scott Martin. "Those were definitely key plays in terms of the mindset for them."
The Irish are 6-1 in Big East games with Scott against 2-2 without the senior, who missed four games in January with a hamstring pull. Notre Dame has won every time since Scott's return against Cincinnati on Jan. 19.
If the Irish knock off Louisville at home on Wednesday night it would be the first six-game regular season run in the Big East for Notre Dame since Mike Brey's debut season here. Should that happen, Scott might need another performance like this.
"Those blocks definitely put it in our favor," said Tim Abromaitis. "It seemed like (Rutgers) was getting a lot of buckets within 5-to-10 feet and for him to step up on those couple plays with huge blocks and we turned that momentum into offense.
"Definitely defensively, I think that's what turned it for us."
Notre Dame never turned back. Scott's block-fest was part of an 8-0 run that put Rutgers in desperation mode for the rest of the game.
"We can run off of stops and we pride ourselves on defense like we have all year," Scott said. "We know if we get rebounds or blocks or loose balls, we can come down on offense and we're pretty efficient on offense."