IRISH HOST VILLANOVA WEDNESDAY IN KEY BIG EAST CLASH
Notre Dame (16-4, 4-3) will play host to Villanova (13-7, 4-3) on Wednesday in a key BIG EAST showdown. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Irish and Wildcats are among a four-way tie for fifth place in the BIG EAST.
The game can be seen on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.com. Mike Patrick (play-by-play) and LaPhonso Ellis (analyst) will be on the call.
Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst) will call the action for the Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network. The broadcast is available on Sirius 93, XM 190 and can also be heard for free on UND.com (full affiliate listings on Pg. 3).
NOTRE DAME-VILLANOVA SERIES HISTORY
Wednesday will be the 35th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Villanova. The Wildcats lead the series 18-16.
The Irish have won the last two meetings with the Wildcats, including an impressive 74-70 come-from-behind overtime victory last season in Philadelphia, Pa. Notre Dame was down by 20 points (39-19) late in the first half of that contest. It matched the largest comeback in program history. Pat Connaughton spearheaded the Irish attack that night with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting from three-point range.
Notre Dame is 6-13 against Villanova since joining the BIG EAST in 1995, but the Irish are 6-5 in the last 11 meetings. The Irish are 9-8 at home against the Wildcats.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is 6-6 against Villanova during his Fighting Irish tenure.
Mike Brey and Villanova head coach Jay Wright are certainly no strangers matching coaching wits against each other. Wednesday's matchup will be the 26th time the two have faced each other on opposite sidelines. When both were former coaches in the America East Conference (Brey at Delaware and Wright at Hofstra), the two faced each other 14 times with Brey owning a 10-4 advantage in their coaching series. As BIG EAST counterparts, Wright owns a 6-5 edge in the 11 meetings. Brey leads the all-time series between the two 15-10.
BIG EAST UPS AND DOWNS
Notre Dame has averaged 75.2 points-per-game in its four BIG EAST victories, while the Irish averaged just 56.0 points in their three league losses. The Fighting Irish shot 52.6% from the field in the victories and 41.4% in the setbacks. From three-point range, Notre Dame shot 52.2% in the wins and 23.7% in the defeats.
COMING BACK AGAINST THE BULLS
Notre Dame trailed 35-28 at halftime of Saturday's game at USF before going on to post a 73-65 victory. The seven-point halftime deficit was the largest overcome by the Irish en route to a win since they came back from a 16-point margin (39-23) in a 74-70 overtime win last season at Villanova (2/18/12).
The Irish fell behind by nine (37-28) early in the second half before going on a 20-3 run.
Senior forward Tom Knight made his first start of the season (fourth of his career) on Saturday at USF. He scored a career-high 17 points (previous high was nine) and tied a career-best mark with seven rebounds.
He was 8-for-10 from the field and played a career-high 32 minutes.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY COMING TO NOTRE DAME
ESPN College GameDay will be returning to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center this season. Notre Dame's matchup with Louisville on Feb. 9 has been designated as the site for the show. Tipoff for the BIG EAST primetime matchup will be at 9 p.m. (ET).
College GameDay returns to the Notre Dame campus for the second time in 2012-13. The football crew visited South Bend on Oct. 13 when the Irish played host to Stanford.
This will mark the second time in school history that Notre Dame has been the host for College GameDay during the basketball season. Purcell Pavilion was the site of the morning show and primetime basketball contest on Jan. 24, 2009, when the Irish played Connecticut.
Coupled with visits for football, next month's College GameDay broadcast will mark the 10th time the ESPN crews have visited Notre Dame.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
The Fighting Irish are 112-9 in their last 121 games played at home. That .926 home winning percentage over the course of the last seven seasons ranks second nationally. Kansas is first with a .967 mark.
Notre Dame is 47-3 in its last 50 home games (.940).
Notre Dame has won 28 straight non-conference home games and the Irish are 69-1 in their last 70 non-league home contests. Notre Dame's last non-conference home loss was an 87-85 setback to Loyola Marymount on Dec. 12, 2009.
MARTIN OUT INDEFINITELY
Scott Martin (GS/G) is out indefinitely due to ongoing issues with his left knee. He has started all 18 games he has played this season.
Martin is averaging 7.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this season. He is shooting 46.3% from three-point range this season after shooting 26.1% from distance last season.
Martin has deposited 31 treys this season after making 30 all of last season. He was 6-for-7 (.857) from three-point range against Seton Hall in the BIG EAST opener. The six made treys were a career-high total and a season-best total for the Irish.
COOLEY A CONSISTENT PERFORMER
Senior forward Jack Cooley is the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 in double-doubles, rebounds per game and field-goal percentage. He is tied for fifth nationally in double-doubles (12) and is 10th in both rebounds per game (10.8) and field-goal percentage (.592).
He leads the BIG EAST in rebounds per game (10.8) and offensive rebounds per game (4.6). He is second in field goal percentage (.592).
Cooley has scored in double-figures in 18 of the 20 games this season.
He is averaging 1.3 blocked shots per game this season, which is tied for eighth in the BIG EAST. Cooley's 100 career blocked shots are the seventh-most in Notre Dame history.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE DOMINANCE FROM COOLEY
Senior forward Jack Cooley is tied for fifth nationally in double-doubles (12).
Cooley has produced a double-double in the first half alone twice this season (Niagara 20 pts, 10 rebs; BYU 12 pts, 10 rebs).
Cooley has 25 career double-doubles, which all have occurred in the last two seasons.
ATKINS ON A ROLL IN LEAGUE PLAY
Junior point guard Eric Atkins is averaging a team-best 14.1 points per game in BIG EAST play this season. He averaged 10.8 points per game in Notre Dame's 13 non-conference games.
Atkins is shooting 52.2% from the field in BIG EAST play, including 55.0% (11-20) from three-point range, which ranks second in the league.
Atkins is tied for fifth in BIG EAST play with a 1.9 steals-per-game average. He has 99 career steals.
He is averaging 38.3 minutes per game in BIG EAST play. Atkins has played all 40 minutes in three of the last four contests.
ATKINS ASSISTING THE IRISH EFFORT
Junior point guard Eric Atkins is eighth nationally and second in the BIG EAST in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2).
Atkins has four double-doubles this season (points & assists). He has dished out 10 or more assists in a game five times this season. Atkins is 16th nationally and third in the BIG EAST with a 6.4 assist-per-game average this season.
ASSISTS ALL AROUND
Notre Dame is second nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.70) and third in assists per game (18.2).
Junior point guard Eric Atkins is third in the BIG EAST (16th nationally) in assists-per-game (6.4), while fellow junior guard Jerian Grant is sixth in the league (5.4). They are the only set of teammates ranked in the top six of the league assists-per-game standings.
The Irish have had 20 or more assists in a game eight times this season. Notre Dame had 25 assists on its 35 made field goals in the BIG EAST opener against Seton Hall. The 25 assists against the Pirates tied the most ever for the Irish in a BIG EAST game.
The Irish have had an assist on 363 of their 544 made field goals this season (.667).
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
The Fighting Irish rank ninth nationally in fewest turnovers per game (10.7). Notre Dame has had 10 or fewer turnovers in eight games this season, including two games with five or fewer turnovers.
Notre Dame is shooting 50.0% from the floor this season. That figure ranks seventh nationally and it leads the BIG EAST.
The Irish are 10-0 this season when they shoot 50% or above from the floor and they are 6-4 when shooting below 50%.
Notre Dame shot a season-best 62.0% (31-50) in its 89-67 win over Niagara (Dec. 21). The Irish have shot 60% or better from the floor three times this season.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
The Irish rank first in the BIG EAST and 15th nationally in three-point percentage (.397). Notre Dame is shooting 42.1% from distance in league play. That mark leads all BIG EAST teams.
Notre Dame boasts three of the top four three-point shooters in BIG EAST play. Eric Atkins is second (.550), while Pat Connaughton (.542) and Scott Martin (.500) are third and fourth, respectively.
The Irish were 12-for-18 from three-point range in the BIG EAST opener against Seton Hall (Jan. 5). The 66.7% three-point shooting clip is the best ever for Notre Dame in a BIG EAST contest. The 12 treys tied a season-high total for the Irish and it marked the third time this season the Irish made 10 or more three-pointers in a game.
Notre Dame is averaging 6.9 made three-pointers per game this season.
CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
Notre Dame is first in BIG EAST play from the free throw line (76.3%).
The Fighting Irish shot a season-best 90.9% (10-for-11) from the free throw line on Saturday at USF. It was the first time the Irish shot 90% or above from the charity stripe since a 14-for-15 (93.3%) effort against Dartmouth on Dec. 10, 2011.
Notre Dame has shot 80% or above from the free throw line in five games this season, including three times in the last four contests.
Notre Dame shot 63.2% (96-152) from the line in the first nine games of the season, but the Irish have shot 77.0% (141-183) in the last 11 contests.
MEN IN BLACK
The Fighting Irish broke out their black jerseys on Saturday at USF. The Irish are 2-0 this season in black uniforms and 12-12 all-time when wearing black. Notre Dame first wore black jerseys during the 2005-06 season.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Seven different Irish players have posted a team-high point total this season.
The Fighting Irish have seven players who are averaging at least 7.0 points per game, including three with a double-figure average.
Nine different Irish players (Atkins, Auguste, Biedscheid, Connaughton, Cooley, Grant, Knight, Martin, Sherman) have notched a double-digit scoring effort this season.
Notre Dame has had at least four double-figure scorers in 10 games this season. The Fighting Irish have boasted at least five double-digit performers six times. The Irish had a season-high six double-digit scorers against Chicago State (Nov. 26).
Notre Dame is 35-12 (.745) over its last 47 BIG EAST regular-season contests.
The Irish have gone 74-39 (.655) in BIG EAST regular-season play over the past seven seasons. That is the third-best mark in the league over that time span.
Notre Dame has gone 49-8 (.860) at home in BIG EAST play over the last seven seasons. That is the best home winning percentage for any BIG EAST school in league play over that time period. The Irish are 21-3 in their last 24 BIG EAST home contests.
COOLEY ON WOODEN AWARD MIDSEASON TOP 25 LIST
Senior forward Jack Cooley has been named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The list is comprised of 25 student-athletes who are the front-runners for college basketball's most prestigious honor.
AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT
Junior point guard Eric Atkins had 130 assists and a 1.83 assist-to-turnover ratio last season. He currently has 128 assists and a 3.20 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.
Atkins shot 39.4% from the field last season and is currently shooting at a 49.4% clip. He has improved his three-point shooting from 37.5% last season to a current mark of 44.8%.
Sophomore guard/forward Pat Connaughton had 30 assists during his freshman campaign and already has dished out 52 assists this season. He had a 1.25 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, but has improved that to 3.25 this season.
Junior guard Jerian Grant has improved his shooting percentage from 38.0% last season to 45.4% this season.
IRISH HELP HURRICANE SANDY VICTIMS
During the first timeout of the Rutgers game on Jan. 19 inside Purcell Pavilion, a check was presented to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the amount of $10,033 to help with relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. A special online auction was held from Jan. 7-18 on Notre Dame's official athletic web site UND.com and fans had the opportunity to bid on several unique items with the proceeds going to help with the relief efforts. Governor Christie is a longtime friend of Irish head coach Mike Brey.
Notre Dame's Jack Cooley (Sr./F) and Garrick Sherman (Sr./C) rank second and fourth, respectively, in the BIG EAST in shooting percentage. Cooley has a .592 (109-184) mark, while Sherman stands at .584 (52-89).
FEW FOULS FOR THE FIGHTING IRISH
Notre Dame ranks third nationally in fewest personal fouls per game (12.4).
CLEANING UP THE GLASS
The Fighting Irish are 13-0 this season when outrebounding their opponent. Notre Dame has a +4.9 rebounding margin per game this season. The Irish are 3-4 when they get outrebounded.
BREY AN ELDER STATESMAN IN THE BIG EAST
Mike Brey is in his 13th season along the Irish sidelines. He is the second-longest tenured coach in the BIG EAST, behind only Jim Boeheim of Syracuse. Brey stands fifth all-time in career BIG EAST victories (both regular-season and tournament) with his 137-92 (.598) mark. He is one of 10 coaches in BIG EAST history to record 100 conference wins.
Brey needs just two more league victories to move into a tie with former St. John's head coach Lou Carnesecca for fourth place on the BIG EAST all-time wins list.
Notre Dame was just 36-58 (.383) in five seasons of BIG EAST play prior to Brey's arrival.
BREY VS. THE TOP 10
The 64-50 win over #8 Kentucky on Nov. 29 improved Notre Dame to 17-23 (.425) against teams ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll under head coach Mike Brey. That includes a 12-6 mark at home.
Notre Dame has won four straight against top-10 opponents are 5-1 in the last six games against top-10 teams.
The Irish are 5-4 versus non-conference top-10 opponents under Brey.
Under Brey, unranked Notre Dame squads are 10-16 against top-10 teams.
Kentucky's 50 points were the fewest allowed by the Irish against a top-10 team since a 52-47 home win over No. 5 Maryland on Jan. 28, 1984. They are the fewest points for the Wildcats under head coach John Calipari.
108 SEASONS AND GOING STRONG
The 2012-13 campaign marks the 108th season of basketball at Notre Dame and the 18th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference. Notre Dame teams have posted an all-time record of 1739-943 for a .648 winning percentage. In 17 seasons as a member of the BIG EAST, the Irish own a 164-133 (.552) record in conference regular-season play.
FIGHTING IRISH CAPTAINS
Scott Martin (GS/G), Jack Cooley (Sr./F) and Eric Atkins (Jr./G) will captain the Fighting Irish during the 2012-13 season. Martin and Atkins are the 20th and 21st players in program history to serve as two-time team captains.
IRISH AIM FOR SEVENTH STRAIGHT 20-WIN CAMPAIGN
Notre Dame has reached the 20-win mark in each of the last six seasons and nine times in the last 12 seasons under head coach Mike Brey. The last time Irish teams reached the 20-win plateau in six straight campaigns was from 1983-89 under head coach Digger Phelps.
Notre Dame has earned appearances in the postseason in each of the last 13 seasons, which marks the longest stretch in school history. The Irish have been to the NCAA Tournament on eight occasions and the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) five times during this current stretch. Under head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame has played in the NCAAs eight times and NIT four times.
Sophomore guard/forward Pat Connaughton also is a pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team. Last spring, he appeared in 12 games, including 10 starts, and posted a 4-4 record with a 3.18 earned-run average. He logged 45.1 innings on the mound and registered 40 strikeouts.
Connaughton was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 50th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
IRISH RANK NUMBER ONE IN 2012 GSR
University of Notre Dame athletic programs again rank as the best in the country in graduation rates, based on Graduation Success Rate (GSR) figures released by the NCAA--including first-place ratings in the sports of football, men's basketball, women's basketball and ice hockey.
Among the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision institutions, Notre Dame had the highest percentage of its sports with 100 percent scores (for the seventh time in eight years), with a .863 figure (19 of 22).
In men's basketball, Notre Dame achieved a perfect 100 GSR rating, with only Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Utah State, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Western Kentucky also reaching the top slot.
The four-year GSR data is based upon the entering classes from 2002 to 2005.
BREY SIGNS HERALDED QUARTET IN NOVEMBER EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
Irish head coach Mike Brey signed four players -- V.J. Beachem (Fort Wayne, Ind./New Haven), Demetrius Jackson (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian), Austin Torres (Mishawaka, Ind./Penn) and Steve Vasturia (Medford, N.J./St. Joseph's Prep) -- to national letters of intent during the November 2012 early signing period.
Beachem (6-6, 180-pound small forward) averaged 19.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 2011-12. An all-state selection he played on the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Junior All-Star Team.
Jackson averaged 22.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.0 steals as a junior while leading Marian to the Class 3A sectional title. An honorable mention All-American by MaxPreps.com, he is an all-state honoree and two-time Northern Indiana Conference Player of the Year.
Torres (6-6, 200-pound power forward) was an all-Northern Indiana Conference honorable mention selection after averaging 10.0 points and 7.2 rebounds. He plays on the same MBA Select AAU Team as Jackson.
Vasturia (6-5, 190-pound shooting guard) was named MVP of the Philadelphia Catholic League after leading his team to the Philadelphia 4A state championship while averaging 21.0 points and 9.3 rebounds.