Jan. 27, 2012
Notre Dame (13-8, 5-3) vs. #24/19 Connecticut (14-5, 4-3)
Jan. 29, 2012 Noon (ET)
XL Center (16,294)
BIG EAST Network (Regional)
WBND/ABC 57 (South Bend area)
Mike Gleason (play-by-play)
Bob Wenzel (analyst)
Broadcast on UND.com
Jack Nolan (play-by-play)
Sean Kearney (analyst)
FIGHTING IRISH AT CONNECTICUT ON SUNDAY
Notre Dame (13-8, 5-3) will conclude a two-game road swing on Sunday at No. 24/19 Connecticut (14-5, 4-3). Tip-off is scheduled for noon (ET) inside the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
The Irish are riding a two-game win streak after posting victories over Syracuse (67-58) and Seton Hall (55-42).
This will be the second meeting between the Fighting Irish and Huskies in a span of just over two weeks. Connecticut snapped Notre Dame's 29-game home win streak with a 67-53 decision on Jan. 14 inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
Sunday's game will be broadcast regionally on the BIG EAST Network with Mike Gleason (play-by-play) and Bob Wenzel (analyst) calling the action. The contest can be seen on WBND (ABC 57) in the South Bend area.
The Fighting Irish Digital Media radio crew of Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and Sean Kearney (analyst) will call the action on radio (affiliate listings on Pg. 5) and their broadcast can also be heard on UND.com.
NOTRE DAME-UCONN SERIES HISTORY
Sunday will be the 27th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Connecticut. Every encounter has occurred since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995. The Huskies hold a 17-9 advantage in the series, but the Irish have won three of the last four showdowns.
This is the fifth straight season that Notre Dame and Connecticut will meet twice during the regular season.
Notre Dame's 53 points in this season's first meeting with UConn were the fewest for the Irish in a home game during the Mike Brey era (12 seasons).
Notre Dame won both meetings with Connecticut last season. The Irish bested the Huskies 73-70 on Jan. 4, 2011 inside Purcell Pavilion before capturing a 70-67 win in Storrs, Conn. in the regular-season finale (March 5, 2011). That was Connecticut's last loss of the season.
The Irish are 2-10 all-time at Connecticut, including a 1-8 mark inside the XL Center. Notre Dame's lone win at the XL Center was a 75-70 triumph on Jan. 5, 2000. The Irish have lost six straight games inside the XL Center.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is 6-12 all-time against Connecticut.
HALTING THE HALL
Seton Hall's 42 points in Wednesday's Irish victory were the fewest ever for a Notre Dame opponent in a BIG EAST game (regular season or tournament). The previous low was 45 from Pittsburgh on March 11, 2010.
The Pirates only made 15 field goals, which were the fewest ever allowed by Notre Dame against a BIG EAST opponent. The previous low was 17 on four occasions.
Seton Hall shot 26.3% from the field (15-57), which was the lowest mark ever for an Irish opponent in BIG EAST play (regular season or tournament). The previous low as 28.1% by Georgetown on March 4, 2004. It also was the lowest for an Irish opponent in a game this season.
Seton Hall's six made field goals in the first half tied the fewest ever for a Notre Dame opponent in the opening half of a BIG EAST contest (regular season or tournament). The Pirates 20.7% (6-29) shooting clip in the first half was the lowest for an Irish opponent in any half of play this season.
The loss was Seton Hall's first home setback of the season. The Pirates entered the contest riding a 12-game home winning streak, which included a 10-0 mark this season.
Notre Dame limited Seton Hall and Syracuse to a combined 30.0% (33-110) shooting from the field in the last two games. The Irish are allowing just 59.5 points per game in BIG EAST play. That figure ranks second in the league.
The Irish are limiting opponents to 39.3% shooting from the field in BIG EAST games, which ranks fourth in the league. Notre Dame boasts the conference's top three-point defense (24.4%).
Syracuse's 58 points were a season-low mark for the Orange. The Irish held Syracuse to a season-low 34.0% (18-53) shooting from the field.
CHALLENGING THE CHAMPS
The Fighting Irish are 10-26 all-time against defending national champions, including the loss to Connecticut on Jan. 14. The Irish are 5-4 in their last nine matchups against a defending national champion.
Notre Dame's last win over a defending national champion was a 78-74 triumph of Connecticut on Jan. 30, 2005 inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Irish are 3-2 against Connecticut when the Huskies are the reigning national champion.
NOTRE DAME KNOCKS OFF #1 AGAIN
Last Saturday's victory over Syracuse was Notre Dame's 10th all-time against a top-ranked team. Notre Dame is 10-23 all-time against No. 1 ranked teams. Eight of the victories have come against the top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll, which is the ranking the NCAA uses to recognize wins over No. 1 teams. The eight wins are tied for fourth nationally.
It was Notre Dame's first win over a No. 1 since topping North Carolina, 60-58, on Feb. 1, 1987 inside Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame has won an NCAA record six straight home games against No. 1 teams. The Irish are 7-3 at home against top-ranked teams.
The nine-point margin of victory was Notre Dame's second largest ever against a top-ranked team. The Fighting Irish defeated No. 1 San Francisco by 11 points (93-82) on March 5, 1977.
It was the third time an un-ranked Notre Dame squad defeated a No. 1 team in 18 tries.
Notre Dame never trailed in the win over Syracuse. The largest Irish lead was 18 points (35-17 with 1:28 left in the first half).
The Notre Dame-Syracuse game on Jan. 21 was the most-watched event anywhere on all the ESPN networks last week. It was the third-most viewed cable sports rating of the week on any network, only behind two NBA contests (Lakers-Heat & Lakers-Mavericks).
BIG EAST TRENDS
o Notre Dame is 23-7 (.767) over its last 30 BIG EAST regular-season contests. The Irish stood 6-8 through 14 regular-season games during the 2009-10 campaign and then won four straight to finish 10-8. Last season, Notre Dame posted a 14-4 regular-season mark in the league.
o The Irish are 16-4 over their last 20 BIG EAST regular-season games.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
The Fighting Irish are 95-7 in their last 102 games played at home. That .931 home winning percentage over the course of the last six seasons ranks fourth nationally.
IRISH ENJOY HOME COOKING IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Notre Dame has gone 42-6 (.875) at home in BIG EAST play over the last six seasons. That is the best home winning percentage for any BIG EAST school in league play over that time period.
BREY NOW FIFTH ALL-TIME IN BIG EAST WINS
Wednesday's win over Seton Hall moved Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey past former Villanova head coach Rollie Massimino and into sole possession of fifth place on the BIG EAST wins list (both BIG EAST regular season and tournament). Brey is 124-86 (.590) in league regular-season and tournament play during his 12 seasons with the Irish.
The win also was the 350th career victory for Brey. He has a 350-180 (.660) mark in his 17 seasons as a head coach at both Delaware and Notre Dame.
MARTIN MAKING THINGS HAPPEN
Senior guard Scott Martin had his season-best five-game double-digit scoring streak snapped on Wednesday at Seton Hall. He is averaging 10.8 ppg. and 8.5 rpg. in the last six games.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
Entering this week, Notre Dame ranked 10th nationally - and second among all BIG EAST teams - with a 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.
The Fighting Irish ranked fourth nationally - and first in the BIG EAST - in fewest turnovers per game (10.3). The Irish only had eight turnovers in the first meeting with Connecticut this season.
The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game eight times this season. Notre Dame had a season-low four turnovers against Sacred Heart (Dec. 19). The Irish also had a season-high 25 assists (on 35 made baskets) versus the Pioneers.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Seven different Notre Dame players have posted a team-high point total in a game this season.
Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins has led Notre Dame in scoring a team-best seven times this season, while junior forward Jack Cooley and sophomore guard Jerian Grant have led the Irish five times each.
Seven Notre Dame players - Tim Abromaitis, Eric Atkins, Pat Connaughton, Jack Cooley, Alex Dragicevich, Jerian Grant and Scott Martin - have scored 20 or more points in a game this season.
Atkins has scored 20-plus points a team-best three times this season.
SHUFFLING THE LINEUP
Notre Dame has used nine different starting lineups this season (out of 21 games played). No Notre Dame player has started every game this season. Jerian Grant and Scott Martinboth have a team-high 20 starts this season.
The Irish used their ninth different lineup of the season last Saturday versus Syracuse when Eric Atkins, Pat Connaughton, Jack Cooley, Jerian Grant and Scott Martin comprised the starting five. That quintet also started on Wednesday at Seton Hall.
Six different Irish players - Joey Brooks(Jr./G), Jack Cooley (Jr./F), Tom Knight (Jr./F), Jerian Grant (So./G), Alex Dragicevich (So./G) and Pat Connaughton(Fr./G-F) - have made their first career start this season.
COOLEY COMING TO PLAY
Junior forward Jack Cooley has posted a double-double in each of the last two games. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the upset of Syracuse and followed that up with 13 points and 11 boards against Seton Hall. Cooley has a team-high six double-doubles this season, which includes four in BIG EAST play.
Cooley is first among all BIG EAST players with a .591 (78-132) shooting percentage.
He was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for his performance against the Orange. Cooley has been selected to the honor roll four times this season.
Cooley is averaging 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in BIG EAST play. The rebound average ranks second in the conference.
He ranks sixth in the BIG EAST with an 8.5 rpg. average this season (all games). That includes 3.7 offensive boards per game, which ranks third in the league. He also has a team-high 29 blocked shots, which is a career-high total for the junior.
Against Delaware State (Nov. 18), Cooley hauled down a career-high 17 rebounds, which included 10 offensive boards.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins leads the Irish with a 12.9 ppg. average this season. He averaged 5.8 ppg. last season as a freshman.
He has scored 20 or more points in a game a team-best three times this season. Atkins tallied a career-high 27 points versus Mississippi Valley State in the season opener.
Atkins has led Notre Dame in scoring a team-high seven times this season.
He is shooting 41.4% (29-70) from three-point range this season. That places him sixth among all BIG EAST players.
GRANT HAS ALL-AROUND GAME
Sophomore guard Jerian Grant, who is in his first season playing with the Irish after sitting out all of last season, has team-high totals in points (269), assists (99), steals (26) and minutes played (728). His 33 made three-pointers also are a team-high total.
Grant is shooting a team-best 78.8% (78-99) from the free throw line this season. He matched a career-high total with 10 made free throws (on 12 attempts) in Wednesday's win at Seton Hall.
Entering this week, Grant ranked 13th nationally - and second in the BIG EAST - with a 2.88 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Grant has scored in double-figures a team-best 16 times this season. He scored a career-high 20 points against both Georgia (Nov. 22) and Maryland (Dec. 4).
LOGGING MAJOR MINUTES
Three Irish players - Eric Atkins (39.1),Jerian Grant (37.5) and Scott Martin (36.8) - are averaging over 35 minutes a game in BIG EAST play.
Atkins has played 40-plus minutes eight times this season, including five times in league play. He ranks second in the BIG EAST in minutes played (league games only).
GET TO 60
Notre Dame is 11-1 this season when scoring 60 or more points, while the Irish are 2-7 when scoring less than 60 points. The Fighting Irish are averaging 74.5 ppg. in their 13 wins, while they are averaging 57.9 ppg. in the eight losses.
Notre Dame is allowing 57.8 ppg. in its wins and 71.4 ppg. in its setbacks.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
The Fighting Irish have a +4.6 rebound margin in their 13 wins, while they have been out-rebounded by an 8.7 margin in their eight setbacks.
Notre Dame is 8-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent.
429 AND COUNTING
Notre Dame has made at least one three-pointer in 429 straight contests dating back to the 1998-99 campaign. The Fighting Irish have made at least one three pointer during every game of the Mike Brey era. The last time an Irish team failed to hit a three-pointer in a game was in a 101-70 loss to Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center on Jan. 12, 1999. Notre Dame finished 0-7 from beyond the arc in that contest. In 2008-09, the Irish set a single-season three-point record with 319.
Freshman guard/forward Pat Connaughton also is a pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team. Connaughton is the 66th Notre Dame student-athlete to compete in both basketball and baseball and the first to do so since Tom Hansen during the 1973-74 academic year.