NOTRE DAME CLOSES HOME SLATE SATURDAY AGAINST PITTSBURGH
Notre Dame (15-14, 6-10) will conclude its regular-season home slate Saturday against former BIG EAST rival Pittsburgh (21-7, 9-6). The Fighting Irish and Panthers will tip-off at 2 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
The contest will be aired on ESPN2 and WatchESPN with Dave O'Brien (play-by-play) and Doris Burke (analyst) calling the action.
A free audio broadcast will be available on WatchND.tv. Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and former Irish standout Jordan Cornette (analyst) will be on the call. The broadcast can also be heard on The Notre Basketball Radio Network headed by WSBT 96.1 FM and 960 AM in South Bend. A complete affiliate list is available on page 5 of this notes packet. The broadcast also is available on Sirius 135/XM 194.
Saturday will be Notre Dame's second straight home affair. The Fighting Irish returned to Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday following a three-game road swing and downed Georgia Tech, 65-62. The Irish will close out the regular season Monday at North Carolina (7 p.m. ET).
Notre Dame Overcomes Slow Start, Upends No. 20 Pittsburgh, 51-42
Jerian Grant and Jack Cooley scored 13 points each and No. 25 Notre Dame overcome a horrendous shooting start and beat No. 20 Pittsburgh 51-42 on Monday night. The Irish missed 18 of their first 19 shots and trailed 19-3 as late as 13:54 into the game. However, they rallied to take the lead in the second half and won going away. Eric Atkins added 10 points and seven assists for Notre Dame (21-6, 9-5 Big East), which has won five in a row over Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6) and snapped a tie with the Panthers for fourth place in the conference. The top four teams get a double-bye in next month's league tournament.
Saturday will be the 59th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. The Irish have won the last five meetings and lead the series 31-27. Notre Dame won at Pittsburgh, 51-42, last season.
The current five-game win streak over Pittsburgh is the longest for the Irish in the series. The last Panther win over the Irish was a 93-80 decision on Jan. 31, 2009, in Pittsburgh. The Irish have won three straight at home against the Panthers, who are 9-17 all-time at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame was 15-12 against Pittsburgh when both schools were members of the BIG EAST.
Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey is 11-8 all-time against Pittsburgh.
BREY GETS 300TH WIN AT NOTRE DAME, ONE SHY OF 400TH CAREER VICTORY
Wednesday's victory over Georgia Tech was head coach Mike Brey's 300th win at Notre Dame. Brey has compiled a 300-156 (.658) record in his 14 seasons in South Bend. He became the 17th active head coach to have 300 or more Division I victories at their current institution (see box on Pg.3).
Only two other Notre Dame head coaches have reached the 300-win milestone. Digger Phelps led the Fighting Irish to a 393-197 record from 1971-91. George Keogan notched a 327-97 mark from 1923-43.
Brey is just one victory shy of recording his 400th career win as a college head coach. He has registered a 399-208 (.657) record in 19 seasons at Delaware and Notre Dame. Brey would become the 47th active head coach with 400 career Division I wins.
The Fighting Irish are 6-5 this season in games decided by five points or fewer. In ACC play, Notre Dame is 5-2 in games decided by five points or fewer.
Notre Dame's 10 losses in ACC play have been by a combined 89 points (8.9 ppg.).
Notre Dame's 14 defeats this season have been by a total of just 114 points (8.1 ppg.).
TAKING CARE OF THE BASKETBALL
Notre Dame has turned the ball over just 24 times in the last four games. The Irish matched a season-low total of five turnovers on Wednesday against Georgia Tech.
Atkins has eight assists and no turnovers in the last three games. He has averaged 35.7 minutes per game in those three contests.
Notre Dame ranks 13th nationally (second in the ACC) with a 1.51 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Irish have the country's 30th-best assists-per-game mark (15.4), which is third in the ACC.
The Irish have dished off 20 or more assists in five contests this season and they have committed fewer than 10 turnovers in 15 games (nine times in ACC play).
PAT AN ALL-AROUND PERFORMER
In ACC play, junior swingman Pat Connaughton ranks fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.80), 11th in rebounding (6.9) and 16th in scoring (13.4).
Connaughton's 36 three-pointers in ACC games are tied for fourth in the league. His 68 treys overall this season are tied for third among ACC players.
Connaughton has pulled down 10 or more rebounds in six games this season (three ACC contests) and has four double-doubles.
He netted a season-high 22 points at Miami last Wednesday. Connaughton was 6-of-7 from three-point range against the Hurricanes. It was his fourth game this season (second in ACC play) with 20-plus points.
Connaughton is averaging career-bests of 13.3 points and 7.1 rebounds this season. Last season, he averaged 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Junior Pat Connaughton has never missed a game during his Fighting Irish career. He has played in all 98 contests, including 82 starts. Connaughton has started 79 consecutive games.
Senior point guard Eric Atkins has played in 94 straight games (all starts). He has only missed two contests during his Notre Dame career and has competed in 130 games (102 starts). Atkins is tied for third on Notre Dame's career games played list and is ninth in games started.
Atkins has played every minute of a contest eight times this season (six times in ACC play). He was on the court for all 50 minutes of the double-overtime victory over Clemson on Feb. 11.
Connaughton has never left the court in eight games this season (six in ACC play). Connaughton played 49 minutes in the double-overtime win against Clemson.
Atkins ranks fifth nationally and first in the ACC in minutes played per game this season (37:83). Connaughton is 17th nationally and third in the league (37:00).
In ACC contests, Connaughton (39.00) and Atkins (38.88) rank second and third, respectively, in minutes played per game.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
Notre Dame's 106 three-pointers in ACC games are tied for third in the league.
Notre Dame made a season-high 13 three-pointers (on 28 attempts) last Wednesday at Miami. It was the third time this season (first time in ACC play) the Irish made 10 or more treys in a game.
Pat Connaughton was 6-of-7 from beyond the arc against the Hurricanes. The six treys tied the most for an Irish player this season (Eric Atkins 6 vs. Canisius).
Atkins (173) and Connaughton (167) rank eighth and ninth, respectively, in Notre Dame history in three-point field goals made.
Connaughton has a team-high 68 three-pointers this season, while Atkins is second with 56.
ATKINS AMONG ACC LEADERS
Eric Atkins is averaging a team-best 13.9 ppg. in ACC play, which ranks 13th in the league. Atkins has scored in double-figures in 12 of 16 ACC games.
His 1,370 career points are the fourth-most among active ACC players, while his 567 career assists are the most for any current ACC player.
He recorded his first double-double of the season (fifth of his career) by tallying 19 points and 11 assists in the Jan. 4 win over Duke. The 11 assists are tied for the most for an ACC player in a league game this season.
Atkins was named ACC Player of the Week in consecutive weeks (Dec. 30 and Jan. 6).
He scored a career-high 30 points and played all 45 minutes in the overtime victory over Canisius on Dec. 29. Atkins deposited a career-high six three pointers (on eight attempts).
ATKINS ASSISTING THE IRISH
Senior point guard Eric Atkins' 2.35 career assist-to-turnover ratio is tied for fifth among all active Division I players.
His 567 career assists ranks 14th nationally among active players. This season, Atkins has 134 assists and 53 turnovers for a 2.53 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is eighth-best in the ACC.
He is averaging 4.8 assists per game in ACC play, which ranks third in the league.
Atkins has dished off 100-plus assists in each of his four seasons. He is one of four players in Notre Dame history to have 100-plus assists in four consecutive seasons. The other three players are Chris Thomas (2001-05), Tory Jackson (2006-10) and David Rivers (1984-88).
SHERMAN COMPILING A SOLID SEASON
Senior center Garrick Sherman is averaging career-bests in points (13.8) and rebounds (7.4) this season.
Against Georgia Tech on Wednesday, he tallied a game-high 21 points. Sherman has reached the 20-point mark five times this season, including four times in ACC play.
In ACC play, he ranks second in shooting percentage (.489), eighth in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and 17th in scoring (13.3 ppg).
He scored 20 or more points in consecutive games for the first time of his career when he tallied 21 and 20 against Florida State (Jan. 21) and Wake Forest (Jan. 25), respectively.
He netted a career-high 29 points at Iowa (Dec. 3).
Sherman has a team-high 20 blocked shots.
SHERMAN PUTTING ON DOUBLE-DOUBLE DISPLAY
Garrick Sherman's six double-doubles this season are tied for the third-most among ACC players. His three double-doubles in ACC play are tied for sixth in the conference.
One of his strongest showings of the year came against North Carolina State (Jan. 7) as he finished with 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. The 18 boards are tied for the most by an ACC player in a league game this season.
SHUFFLING THE STARTERS
Notre Dame has used 11 different starting lineups this season. The Fighting Irish have used a different starting five in each of the last three games.
Against Georgia Tech on Wednesday, the Irish started Atkins, Connaughton, Sherman, Burgett and Vasturia. It was the first time the Irish used that starting lineup.
The Fighting Irish are 3-0 in overtime games this season. The 68-64 double-overtime win over Clemson on Feb. 11 was Notre Dame's sixth straight victory in a game decided in overtime. In fact, the Fighting Irish are 9-1 in their last 10 overtime affairs.
Notre Dame is 16-9 in overtime contests under head coach Mike Brey.
Notre Dame's other two overtime victories this season were against Canisius (87-81) on Dec. 29 and Boston College (76-73) on Feb. 1.
TOUGH GOING AT PURCELL THIS YEAR
Heading into this season, Notre Dame had lost only nine times at Purcell Pavilion since the beginning of the 2006-07 campaign and had not suffered more than three losses at home in a single season.
The Irish are 13-5 at Purcell Pavilion this season. The five losses are the most since the 2005-06 campaign when that Notre Dame team finished 12-5 at home. That season followed a 13-5 season at home in 2004-05.
BURGETT SURGERY SUCCESSFUL
Sophomore forward Austin Burgett on Jan. 29 underwent outpatient cardiac procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat and returned to the court on against North Carolina on Feb. 8 for the first time since the Florida State game on Jan. 21. He experienced an abnormally fast heartbeat in the second half of Notre Dame's loss against the Seminoles.
He played a career-high 27 minutes on Saturday at Virginia and started Wednesday's contest against Georgia Tech.
Prior to that contest, the last time the Irish had two freshmen in the starting lineup was during the 2006-07 campaign when rookies Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson both earned multiple starts throughout the season.
V.J. Beachem earned his first career start against Clemson (Feb. 11). He became the third different Irish freshman to start a game this season. Prior to this season, the last time Notre Dame had three true freshmen earn at least one start in a season was during the 1999-2000 campaign (Matt Carroll-30, Jere Macura-2 and Ivan Kartelo-1).
FIGHTING IRISH FACTS
Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Notre Dame is 37-2 when shooting 50% or above from the field, 67-9 when outrebounding its opponent and 69-6 when leading at halftime.
Senior Eric Atkins has been named one of the final 23 candidates for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. The original watch list of 80 candidates was narrowed down to the list of 23.
Atkins is averaging 13.6 points and 4.6 assists per game this season and boasts a 2.52 assist-to-turnover ratio. He is averaging 37.8 minutes per game this season.
The annual honor, announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and is named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic point guard Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men's basketball. A committee of well-respected media members and influential people within collegiate basketball from around the country comprise the committee. The candidates will be narrowed down to a final five in early March.
IRISH OPEN ACC ERA WITH WIN OVER DUKE
January 4 was a historic day for Notre Dame as it opened its Atlantic Coast Conference era with a 79-77 victory over No. 7 Duke. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Blue Devils that began in 1988. It was Notre Dame's first victory over Duke since a 70-66 overtime win on Feb. 15, 1987, at the Joyce Center.
Duke grabbed a 10-point lead (60-50) with 11:35 left in the second half, but Notre Dame responded with a 10-0 run to tie the game with 8:01 remaining. In fact, the Irish extended it to a 20-4 run to take their largest lead (70-64) of the game with 4:18 left to play.
With Notre Dame's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, senior center Garrick Sherman now is playing in the third different conference during his collegiate career. Sherman played his first two seasons (2009-11) in the Big Ten Conference while at Michigan State and then transferred to Notre Dame following the 2010-11 campaign. After sitting out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Sherman played last year in Notre Dame's final season in the BIG EAST Conference.
BREY NO STRANGER TO THE ACC
Perhaps no person is better prepared to navigate the Irish basketball program into its new basketball conference home than head coach Mike Brey. A Rockville, Md., native, he grew up a Maryland Terrapin basketball fan and his first coaching job in the collegiate ranks was as an assistant coach at Duke for eight seasons.
Beginning in 1987-88, he helped Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski take his teams to six NCAA Final Fours and four national title games while winning back-to-back national titles in 1991 and 1992. The Blue Devils posted a sterling 216-65 record for a 76.8 winning percentage during his tenure at the school. Brey recruited and worked daily with four of the greatest players in that program's history -- Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill.
KNIGHT AND SHERMAN JOIN ATKINS AND CONNAUGHTON AS IRISH CAPTAINS
The last time Notre Dame added a captain at midseason was two years ago (during the 2011-12 campaign) when Atkins, then a sophomore, served as a tri-captain with Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin.
Atkins is the first three-time captain in the 109-history of the program, while Connaughton, Sherman and Knight are first-time captains.
NOTRE DAME STUDENT-ATHLETES AGAIN RANK #1 IN NCAA GRS
For the eighth time in nine years, the University of Notre Dame ranks number one on a percentage basis in terms of number of Graduation Success Rate (GSR) 100 scores, among all NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
Twenty of 22 athletics programs at Notre Dame compiled graduation rates of 100 percent, including the men's basketball team, according to the ninth year of GSR measurements developed by the NCAA. It's the first time Notre Dame's programs have combined for 20 perfect scores-after four previous years with 19.
None of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A) programs in the country had a higher percentage of 100 GSR scores than did Notre Dame with its .909 number (20 of 22).
In addition, Notre Dame ranked second among all FBS institutions with nine perfect scores among 22 sports (.409) in the federal graduation rate analysis.
Notre Dame has earned appearances in the postseason in each of the last 14 seasons, which marks the longest stretch in school history. The Irish have been to the NCAA Championship on nine 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 nine times, including a current stretch of four straight trips, and NIT four times.
NOTRE DAME LOOKS TO NOTCH ANOTHER 20-WIN CAMPAIGN
The Irish have recorded seven straight 20-win seasons. It's the first time in program history that Notre Dame has compiled seven consecutive 20-win campaigns. The Fighting Irish have reached the 20-win plateau 10 times in 13 seasons under head coach Mike Brey.
Last season's 25 wins were tied for the second-most of the Brey era. The most wins for the Irish under Brey are 27 (27-7) in 2010-11.
Junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton also is a standout pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team. He has appeared in 22 games, including 20 starts, and boasts an 8-6 career record with a 2.43 earned-run average (ERA). He has logged 92.2 innings and has notched 69 strikeouts. As a sophomore, Connaughton went 4-2 and posted a 1.71 ERA.
Connaughton recently was named the No. 46 prospect among 2014 draft-eligible players by Perfect Game in the publication's post-fall college top-50 list. The publication ranked Connaughton as the No. 22 right-handed pitcher.
Connaughton was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 50th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
DIGGER PHELPS BECOMES SIXTH INDUCTEE INTO RING OF HONOR
Former Irish head coach Digger Phelps became the sixth inductee into Notre Dame's Ring of Honor during halftime of the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech game on Jan. 19.
More than two dozen of Phelps' former players from his 20-season era (1971-91) returned to campus to see their former head coach inducted into the Ring of Honor.
Notre Dame also commemorated the 40th anniversary of Notre Dame ending UCLA's 88-game win streak. The landmark victory took place at Notre Dame on Jan. 19, 1974. The win streak still remains the longest in men's college basketball history. Eleven members of the squad were recognized for that achievement during a first-half timeout of the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech contest.
NOTRE DAME ADDS TWO FRONTLINE PLAYERS FOR 2014-15 CAMPAIGN
Irish head coach Mike Brey recently announced the signing of two frontcourt players to his 2014-15 roster. Bonzie Colson, Jr., a 6-6, 200-pound forward out of New Bedford, Mass., and Martin Geben, a 6-9, 230-pound forward from Vilnius, Lithuania, have signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period and will enroll in the fall of 2014.