FIGHTING IRISH HAVE SATURDAY DATE WITH BLUE DEMONS
Notre Dame (17-4, 5-3) will renew its long-standing rivalry with DePaul (10-10, 1-6) Saturday afternoon in Rosemont, Ill. The BIG EAST battle is slated for 2 p.m. (ET) inside Allstate Arena. The Irish currently are in a four-way tie for fourth place in the BIG EAST standings.
Notre Dame will be facing DePaul twice in a four-game span. The Irish play host to the Blue Demons Feb. 13.
Saturday's game can be seen on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.com. Lou Canellis (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 85, XM 85 and can also be heard for free on UND.com (full affiliate listings on Pg. 3).
Saturday's affair at DePaul will be the second of three games in a six-day stretch for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is at Syracuse for an ESPN Big Monday showdown.
NOTRE DAME-DEPAUL SERIES HISTORY
Saturday will be the 103rd meeting all-time between Notre Dame and DePaul. The Fighting Irish lead the series 58-44. The Irish have won seven straight over the Blue Demons, including last season's 84-76 victory inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center (Feb. 11, 2012). DePaul's last win over Notre Dame was a 67-66 decision on Feb. 8, 2007, in Rosemont, Ill.
This will be the 11th meeting between the two schools since DePaul joined the BIG EAST in 2005. The Irish are 8-2 in those contests, including a 3-2 mark at DePaul. The Irish have won three straight times at DePaul.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is 11-3 all-time against the Blue Demons.
BREY MOVING UP BIG EAST WINS LIST
A win on Saturday would move Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey into a tie with former St. John's head coach Lou Carnesecca for fourth place on the BIG EAST all-time wins list (both regular-season and tournament). Brey currently stands fifth all-time in career BIG EAST victories with his 138-92 (.600) mark. He is one of 10 coaches in BIG EAST history to record 100 conference wins.
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.
Notre Dame was just 36-58 (.383) in five seasons of BIG EAST play prior to Brey's arrival.
FIGHTING IRISH FACTS
Over the last three seasons, Notre Dame is 30-1 (10-0 this season) when shooting 50% or above from the field, 50-2 (13-0 this season) when outrebounding its opponent and 51-5 (14-1 this season) when leading at halftime.
Notre Dame has overcome a halftime deficit to win the last two games. The Irish were down seven points (35-28) at USF before winning 73-65. Notre Dame trailed Villanova by two (31-29) in the eventual 65-60 victory. It's the first time the Irish have come back from halftime deficits in consecutive games to win since the 2010-11 campaign. That season, the Irish trailed Marquette by nine (45-36) at the intermission before winning 80-75 and in the next contest Notre Dame was down by five points (28-23) at Pittsburgh before capturing a 56-51 victory.
The Fighting Irish are 3-3 this season when trailing at halftime.
Notre Dame had 20 assists and just six turnovers in Wednesday's win over Villanova. The 3.33 assist-to-turnover ratio was the best for the Irish in a BIG EAST game this season.
The Fighting Irish have dished out 20 or more assists in nine games this season (twice in BIG EAST play).
Notre Dame is second nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.74) and third in assists per game (18.2).
The Fighting Irish rank ninth nationally in fewest turnovers per game (10.5). Wednesday was the seventh time this season the Irish had fewer than 10 turnovers in game (fifth time in BIG EAST play). The Irish have turned the ball over five times or less in two games this season.
Junior point guard Eric Atkins is third in the BIG EAST (16th nationally) in assists-per-game (6.3), while fellow junior guard Jerian Grant is sixth in the league (5.6). They are the only set of teammates ranked in the top six of the league assists-per-game standings.
Grant is averaging 12.7 points per game this season, while Atkins has a 11.6 points-per-game average.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE TIMES TWO
Jack Cooley (17 points, 16 rebounds) and Jerian Grant (12 points, 10 assists) both notched double-doubles in Wednesday's win over Villanova. It was the fifth time this season (second in BIG EAST play) that at least two Fighting Irish players recorded a double-double in the same game.
Cooley has a team-best 13 double-doubles this season (four in BIG EAST play).
It was Grant's first career double-double in a BIG EAST game. He has two double-doubles this season.
BIEDSCHEID A LIFT OFF THE BENCH
Freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid came off the bench and scored a career-high 18 points in Wednesday's win over Villanova. Biedscheid was 5-for-7 from three-point range. The five treys were a career-high total. It was his fifth double-digit scoring effort of the season (first in BIG EAST play).
Senior forward Tom Knight has started the last two games and is averaging 13.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in those contests. He is 13-for-19 (.684) from the field in those two games.
Knight made his first start of the season Saturday at USF and 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.
BIG EAST UPS AND DOWNS
Notre Dame has averaged 73.2 points-per-game in its five BIG EAST victories, while the Irish averaged just 56.0 points in their three league losses. The Fighting Irish shot 50.4% from the field in the victories and 41.4% in the setbacks. From three-point range, Notre Dame shot 50.0% in the wins and 23.7% in the defeats.
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.
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 (13) and is 10th in both rebounds per game (11.0) and field-goal percentage (.587).
He leads the BIG EAST in rebounds per game (11.0) and offensive rebounds per game (4.7). He is third in field goal percentage (.587).
Cooley has scored in double-figures in 19 of the 21 games this season. He has hauled down 10 or more rebounds in each of the last four games and 14 times overall this season. Cooley grabbed a season-high 16 boards on Wednesday against Villanova.
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 26 career double-doubles, which all have occurred in the last two seasons.
He is averaging 1.2 blocked shots per game this season. Cooley's 100 career blocked shots are the seventh-most in Notre Dame history.
GRANT BRINGING HIS GAME IN LEAGUE PLAY
Junior guard Jerian Grant leads the Irish in points per game (13.6) and assists (49) in BIG EAST play. He is shooting 80% (16-20) from the free throw line in league games this season.
Grant has scored in double-figures in the last three games and nine times in the last 10 contests.
He has dished out 10 assists twice in the last four games. Grant posted his first career BIG EAST double-double with 12 points and 10 assists on Wednesday against Villanova.
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 6.3 assist-per-game average this season.
Atkins is shooting 50.0% from the field in BIG EAST play, including 47.8% (11-23) from three-point range, which ranks third in the league.
He is tied for eighth in BIG EAST play with a 1.8 steals-per-game average. He has 99 career steals.
Atkins is averaging 38.0 minutes per game in BIG EAST play. Atkins has played all 40 minutes in three of the last five contests.
Notre Dame is shooting 49.6% 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 7-4 when shooting below 50%.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
The Irish rank first in the BIG EAST and 15th nationally in three-point percentage (.399). Notre Dame is shooting 42.2% 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. Scott Martin is second (.500), while Eric Atkins (.478) and Pat Connaughton (.464) 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 7.0 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 (75.9%). The Irish are 18-for-22 (.818) from the line in the last two games.
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 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 five contests.
Notre Dame shot 63.2% (96-152) from the line in the first nine games of the season, but the Irish have shot 76.8% (149-194) in the last 12 contests.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
The Fighting Irish are 113-9 in their last 122 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 48-3 in its last 51 home games (.941).
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.
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 11 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 36-12 (.750) over its last 48 BIG EAST regular-season contests.
The Irish have gone 75-39 (.658) 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 50-8 (.862) 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 22-3 in their last 25 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 132 assists and a 3.22 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.
Atkins shot 39.4% from the field last season and is currently shooting at a 48.6% clip. He has improved his three-point shooting from 37.5% last season to a current mark of 42.6%.
Sophomore guard/forward Pat Connaughton had 30 assists during his freshman campaign and already has dished out 53 assists this season. He had a 1.25 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, but has improved that to 3.31 this season.
Junior guard Jerian Grant has improved his shooting percentage from 38.0% last season to 44.9% 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.
FEW FOULS FOR THE FIGHTING IRISH
Notre Dame ranks third nationally in fewest personal fouls per game (12.6).
CLEANING UP THE GLASS
The Fighting Irish are 13-0 this season when outrebounding their opponent. The Irish are 4-4 when they get outrebounded.
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 1740-943 for a .649 winning percentage. In 17 seasons as a member of the BIG EAST, the Irish own a 165-133 (.554) 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.