2012 BIG EAST Championship
Madison Square Garden (19,786)
New York, N.Y.
Sean McDonough (play-by-play)
Jay Bilas (analyst)
Bill Raftery (analyst)
Beth Mowins (sideline)
Doris Burke (sideline) Radio: Broadcast on UND.com
Jack Nolan (play-by-play) Sean Kearney (analyst) Live Stats:
THIRD-SEEDED IRISH HEAD TO NEW YORK FOR BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 3 seed Notre Dame (21-10) will begin BIG EAST Championship play with a quarterfinal contest at approximately 9:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday inside Madison Square Garden. Notre Dame's opponent will be determined during Wednesday's second-round of play. This is the second straight season that the Irish have garnered a double-bye for the BIG EAST Championship.
The Irish concluded regular-season play on Friday with a 75-69 home victory over Providence. Notre Dame posted a 13-5 record in BIG EAST play. The 13 victories are the third-most in program history.
Junior forward Jack Cooley was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team, while Jerian Grant was selected to the league's all-rookie team.
Thursday's game can be seen on ESPN/ESPN3D with Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst), Bill Raftery (analyst) and Beth Mowins (sideline) calling the action. Every BIG EAST Championship game will be broadcast by the ESPN family of networks.
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. 6) and their broadcast can also be heard on UND.com.
NOTRE DAME IN THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP
Notre Dame is 8-16 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship, including a 7-11 mark under head coach Mike Brey. Notre Dame's top BIG EAST Championship finishes were semifinal appearances in 2002, 2007, 2010 and 2011 (all under Brey).
Last season, the Fighting Irish earned the No. 2 seed and bested seventh-seeded Cincinnati, 89-51, in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 3 seed Louisville, 83-77, in overtime in the semifinals.
This is the second time that Notre Dame has been the No. 3 seed for the BIG EAST Championship. The third-seeded Irish fell to No. 6 seed Marquette, 89-79, during the quarterfinals of the 2008 tournament.
IRISH IN THE GARDEN
Notre Dame owns a 55-45 (.550) record all-time when playing inside Madison Square Garden. The Irish are 0-1 in the venue this season after falling to St. John's, 61-58, on Feb. 25.
The Fighting Irish went 1-2 inside Madison Square Garden last season.
COOLEY GETS BACK TO HOT PLAY
Junior forward Jack Cooley followed up an uncharacteristic two-point, no-rebound effort at Georgetown on Feb. 27 with a 27-point, 17-rebound performance in the regular-season finale against Providence. The point total was a career-high mark, while the rebound figure was one shy of his career-best total. He had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the first half alone. It was his team-best 12th double-double of the season (10th in BIG EAST play). Cooley also had three blocked shots against the Friars.
Junior forward Jack Cooley has produced a double-double in six of the last eight games. He has a team-best 12 double-doubles this season (10 in BIG EAST play).
Cooley averaged a double-double in BIG EAST play with 14.6 ppg. and 10.2 rpg.
BIG EAST BIG MAN
Junior forward Jack Cooley was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team. That is his first all-league postseason honor.
Cooley finished the regular season ranked first among all BIG EAST players in shooting percentage for all games (.621) and league games only (.620). He is 56-for-81 (.691) from the field in the last seven games.
Cooley's .621 shooting percentage currently ranks sixth in Notre Dame history for a single-season mark.
In BIG EAST play, Cooley ranks second among all league players with a 10.2 rpg. average. He is averaging a league-best 4.6 offensive rebounds per game in BIG EAST play.
He ranks fourth in the BIG EAST with a 9.2 rpg. average this season (all games). That includes 4.0 offensive boards per game, which ranks second in the league. He is averaging 1.6 blocked shots per game, which ranks sixth among all BIG EAST players.
Cooley has been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll a team-best five times this season. He also was named the league's player of the week on Feb. 13.
BREY'S IRISH ONCE AGAIN AMONG THE BEST IN THE BIG EAST
Notre Dame's 13 BIG EAST victories are the third-most in program history. The Irish won 14 league contests in 2007-08 (14-4) and 2010-11 (14-4).
The Fighting Irish have produced a winning record in BIG EAST play in each of the past three seasons and 10 times overall during head coach Mike Brey's 12 seasons at Notre Dame. This marks the third straight season that the Irish have won at least 10 league games. Notre Dame has won 10 or more BIG EAST contests eight times under Brey.
IRISH POST SIXTH-STRAIGHT 20-WIN SEASON
Notre Dame has reached the 20-win plateau for the sixth straight season and for the ninth time under head coach Mike Brey (12 seasons). The last time the Irish put together six-straight 20-win seasons was from 1983-89 under head coach Digger Phelps.
That marked the third time this season - and the first time in BIG EAST play - that the Irish had five players reach double-figures in points. The other occasions were against Bryant (Nov. 27) and Sacred Heart (Dec. 19).
Cooley has scored 20-plus points a team-best six times (four times in league play).
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, was named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team. He is the first Notre Dame player named to the all-rookie squad since Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson both were selected in 2007.
Grant has team-high totals in points (387), assists (153), steals (38) and minutes played (1,108). His 51 made three-pointers also are a team-high total.
Grant has four 20-plus point efforts of this season (two in BIG EAST play).
Grant ranks 10th nationally - and second in the BIG EAST - with a 2.83 assist-to-turnover ratio. His 5.3 assist-per-game average in BIG EAST play ranks seventh in the league.
Grant is shooting a team-best 81.5% (106-130) from the free throw line this season. That mark ranks seventh among all BIG EAST players.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins is averaging 12.5 points-per-game this season. He averaged 5.8 ppg. last season as a freshman.
He has scored 20 or more points in a game three times this season, including a career-high 27 points versus Mississippi Valley State in the season opener.
Atkins matched a career-high assist total with nine in the regular-season finale versus Providence.
He is shooting a team-best 36.9% (41-111) from three-point range this season (minimum 20 attempts).
Atkins has played 40-plus minutes 11 times this season, including eight times in league play. He is tied for second in the BIG EAST in minutes played (league games only), while Grant is seventh and Martin is eighth.
The Fighting Irish defense ranks second in the BIG EAST by surrendering just 59.2 points per game in league play.
The Irish boast the top three-point defense (25.5%) in BIG EAST play.
PAT PERFORMING FROM THE PERIMETER
Freshman guard/forward Pat Connaughton was 7-for-12 from three-point range in the win at Villanova on Feb. 18. The seven treys were the most for an Irish freshman since Chris Thomas had seven against Rutgers on Feb. 6, 2002. Connaughton's seven three-pointers also were the most for any Irish player this season.
He is 38-109 (.349) from three-point range this season.
Connaughton's 21-point performance against Villanova marked his third 20-plus point effort of the season (second in BIG EAST play).
He matched a career-high total with a game-high 11 rebounds at Georgetown (Feb. 27).
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
The Fighting Irish are 100-7 in their last 107 games played at home. That .935 home winning percentage over the course of the last six seasons ranks third nationally.
The Irish are 35-1 (.972) in their last 36 home games.
IRISH ENJOY HOME COOKING IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Notre Dame has gone 47-6 (.887) 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.
BIG EAST TRENDS
Notre Dame is 31-9 (.775) over its last 40 BIG EAST regular-season contests, including a 24-6 (.800) mark in the last 30 league games. 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.
JUST HOW FAR THEY'VE COME
Following its 65-58 loss at Rutgers on Jan. 16, Notre Dame stood at 11-8 overall and 3-3 in the BIG EAST. Notre Dame was averaging 68.9 ppg. and allowing its opponents 64.4 ppg. in those 19 contests. The Irish have gone 10-2 in their last 12 contests, including a nine-game win streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 22. Over the course of the last 12 games, the Irish are averaging 64.8 ppg., and allowing their opponents just 57.5 points. In three of those contests, Notre Dame held its opponent to under 50 points.
In the last 12 games, Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 39.4% (267-678) from the field, including 26.0% (47-181) from three-point range.
BEATING THE BEST
The Irish have defeated five AP top-25 teams this season. Notre Dame has topped #1 Syracuse (67-58), #11 Louisville (67-65 in 2ot), #15 Marquette (76-59), #22 Pittsburgh (72-59) and #24 Connecticut (50-48).
COMING THROUGH IN CLOSE GAMES
Notre Dame is 4-2 this season in games decided by five points or less.
In fact, dating back to the 2010-11 campaign, the Irish are 10-2 in their last 12 games decided by five or fewer points. Last year's squad was a perfect 6-0 in those contests.
The Irish are 2-0 in overtime games this season. In addition to the 74-70 overtime triumph at Villanova (Feb. 18), Notre Dame won at Louisville, 67-65, in double-overtime on Jan. 7. The Fighting Irish are 9-8 in overtime contests during the Mike Brey era (12 seasons). That includes a 5-1 mark in the last six overtime games.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
The Fighting Irish are averaging 6.5 made three-pointers per game this season. That places them fourth among all BIG EAST teams.
Notre Dame has made 10 or more three-pointers in a game five times this season (twice in BIG EAST play). The Irish are 5-0 in those contests.
The Irish are 12-58 (.207) from three-point range in the last three games.
CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
Notre Dame ranks third in the BIG EAST with a .714 free throw percentage (all games).
PROTECTING THE ROCK
Notre Dame ranks sixth nationally - and second among all BIG EAST teams - with a 1.46 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.
The Irish rank third nationally - and first in the BIG EAST - in fewest turnovers per game (10.0).
Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins both are among the best in the BIG EAST in assist-to-turnover ratio. Grant ranks second in league play (2.6), while Atkins is seventh (2.1)
Over the last six games, Notre Dame has only committed 52 turnovers (8.7 per game).
The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game 14 times this season (eight times in BIG EAST play). The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in five of the last six games. Notre Dame had a season-low four turnovers against Sacred Heart (Dec. 19). The BIG EAST low was five at West Virginia (Feb. 8).
ASSISTING IN THE EFFORT
The Irish rank fourth in BIG EAST play with 14.3 assists per game.
Notre Dame has registered at least 20 assists in a game seven times this season (three times in BIG EAST play).
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Notre Dame has a +3.4 rebound margin in its 21 wins, while the Irish are -8.2 in that category in their 10 losses. Notre Dame is 14-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent.
A SUCCESSFUL STREAK
Notre Dame's recent nine-game win streak (Jan. 21-Feb. 22) was the longest BIG EAST win streak in program history and was the third longest for an Irish team under Mike Brey.
Four of Notre Dame's victories during the streak occurred on the road. The Irish also defeated three ranked teams during the streak.
Notre Dame held those nine teams to a 37.6% (194-516) shooting clip from the field, including 25.9% (36-139) from three-point range.
The Irish averaged 67.0 ppg. during the streak while allowing just 55.7 ppg.
Notre Dame went 4-2 in its final six road games of the regular season. The recent four-game road win streak marked the first time the Irish had won that many consecutive games on the road since they captured five straight during the 2000-01 season (Mike Brey's first at Notre Dame).
Notre Dame's four-point wins at West Virginia (55-51 on Feb. 8) and Villanova in overtime (74-70 on Feb. 18) provided many dramatic moments for the Irish basketball team.
In the victory over the Mountaineers, the Irish trailed by three (45-42) with 2:50 to play in the contest, but three-pointers on three consecutive Notre Dame possessions propelled the team to victory. An Eric Atkins trey knotted the game at 45-45 with 2:34 to play. After Jerian Grant stole the ball on the Mountaineers next possession, he gave the Irish a three-point lead (48-45) on his three-point basket with 1:52 left to play. The final three-point dagger was provided by Scott Martin when his trey gave the Irish a 51-45 advantage with 58 seconds to play. Notre Dame extended the lead to eight with two Jack Cooley free throws in the final 26 seconds as the Irish outscored the Mountaineers 13-6 in the final 2:50 of the contest.
Notre Dame methodically cut into Villanova's lead to mount one of the classic comebacks in the 107-year history of the Irish program. The Irish erased a 20-point first-half deficit and a 16-point halftime deficit. The Irish trailed by 10 points with 5:45 remaining before outscoring the Wildcats 16-6 down the stretch. A three-point play by Atkins gave the Irish their first lead in the second half (57-56) with 1:43 left in regulation and the Irish extended the lead to 60-56 on a Grant three-pointer with 59.9 seconds. Villanova scored the final four points of regulation and tied the game with 0.9 seconds to play in regulation. In overtime, Notre Dame outscored Villanova 14-10 and actually was up eight (73-65) with 15.2 seconds remaining. Once again, it was three consecutive three-point daggers that lifted the Irish to victory. Pat Connaughton, who finished with 21 points on a career-high seven three-pointers, provided the first with 2:22 remaining that put the Irish up 65-62 with 2:22 to play. After a Villanova three which tied the game, Grant nailed his third three-pointer of the evening with 1:51 remaining. Connaughton's seventh and final trey gave the Irish a six-point advantage (71-65) with 45.9 seconds.
Notre Dame nearly erased a 14-point second-half deficit at St. John's on Jan. 25. The Fighting Irish got to within one of the Red Storm, but could never grab a lead in the contest.
SECOND HALF SHUTDOWNS
Notre Dame used impressive second-half defensive efforts in recent wins over Villanova (Feb. 18) and West Virginia (Feb. 22).
Villanova was 5-for-21 (.238) from the field in the second half. The five made field goals matched the fewest ever for an Irish opponent in any half of a BIG EAST contest (regular season or tournament). The Wildcats scored just 21 points in the second stanza.
The Irish held West Virginia to just 16 points in the second half. That is the lowest second-half total by an Irish opponent this season. The Mountaineers were 6-for-27 (.222) from the field in the period.
In BIG EAST games this season, Notre Dame has been outscored 495-481 (-14) in the first half of play, but the Irish have a 630-546 (+84) scoring advantage in the second half.
Notre Dame's nine-game win streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 22 produced some significant achievements for the Fighting Irish program.
The streak began with a 67-58 home win over #1 Syracuse (Jan. 21). It was Notre Dame's 10th victory all-time against a top-ranked opponent and the first since 1987.
The Irish snapped Seton Hall's 12-game home win streak in a 55-42 victory on Jan. 25. The Pirates had been 10-0 at home this season. Seton Hall's 42 points were the fewest Notre Dame has ever allowed against a BIG EAST opponent.
The 50-48 win at Connecticut (Jan. 29) marked the first time in program history that Notre Dame has won consecutive games at Connecticut. It also was just the second win ever at Hartford's XL Center for the Irish.
The victory over Marquette (Feb. 4) snapped its seven-game win streak and it also marked Notre Dame's first two-game win streak over the Golden Eagles since they joined the BIG EAST in 2005.
The win at West Virginia (Feb. 8) halted Notre Dame's three-game losing streak in Morgantown.
Notre Dame overcame a 20-point deficit in a 74-70 overtime win at Villanova (Feb. 18).
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.
Baseball America ranks Connaughton as the 29th best freshman in the country. He is rated as the #4 Major League Baseball draft prospect
in the BIG EAST according to Perfect Game, which ranks him as a 1-3 round draft pick in 2014.