March 9, 2012
(#7 seed) Louisville (24-9) vs. (#3 seed) Notre Dame (22-10)
BIG EAST Championship Semifinal
March 9, 2012
9:00 p.m. (ET)
Madison Square Garden
New York, N.Y.
Sean McDonough (play-by-play)
Jay Bilas (analyst)
Bill Raftery (analyst)
Doris Burke (sideline)
Broadcast on UND.com
Jack Nolan (play-by-play)
Sean Kearney (analyst)
FIGHTING IRISH TO FACE LOUISVILLE IN BIG EAST SEMIFINALS
No. 3 seed Notre Dame (22-10) will face No. 7 seed Louisville (24-9) on Friday in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship. Tipoff is scheduled for approximately 9:30 p.m. (ET) inside Madison Square Garden.
The Fighting Irish and Cardinals met once during the regular season and the Irish came away with a 67-65 double-overtime victory in Louisville on Jan. 7. This is the second straight season that the two schools will meet in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship. Louisville topped Notre Dame, 83-77 in overtime, during last year's semifinals.
Friday's game can be seen on ESPN/ESPN3 with Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst), Bill Raftery (analyst) and Doris Burke (sideline) calling the action.
The Fighting Irish Digital Media radio crew of Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and Sean Kearney (analyst) will call the action on radio and their broadcast can also be heard on UND.com.
NOTRE DAME IN THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP
Notre Dame is 9-16 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship, including an 8-11 mark under head coach Mike Brey. Notre Dame is making its third straight trip to the league semifinals and its fifth semifinal appearance overall (all under Brey). The Irish have never advanced to the final.
Notre Dame is the only school to advance to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals each of the last three seasons. The Irish are the first team since Pittsburgh (2006-08) to earn three consecutive berths in the semifinals.
The Fighting Irish have won at least one BIG EAST Championship game in each of the last four seasons. That is a program-best streak.
With Thursday's 57-53 overtime victory over USF, the Irish improved their record to 5-5 in the quarterfinal round of the BIG EAST Championship. Notre Dame is 8-9 all-time in its first game of BIG EAST Championship play.
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.
NOTRE DAME-LOUISVILLE SERIES HISTORY
Friday will be the 29th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Louisville. The Cardinals lead the series 17-11 (full series history on page 5 of this notes packet).
The Irish are 4-5 against the Cardinals since Louisville joined the BIG EAST in 2005. Irish head coach Mike Brey is 4-5 all-time against Louisville.
Friday will be the second meeting between Notre Dame and Louisville in the BIG EAST Championship. The Cardinals captured an 83-77 overtime victory in last season's semifinals.
ANOTHER LATE NIGHT?
Each of the last four Notre Dame-Louisville showdowns have gone to overtime. The Irish are 2-2 in those contests. Two of those games have gone to double-overtime, including this season's 67-65 Irish victory in Louisville (Jan. 7).
Five of the last six Notre Dame-Louisville encounters have gone to overtime. Six of the nine contests between Notre Dame and Louisville since the Cardinals joined the BIG EAST in 2005 have been settled in overtime.
THE LAST TIME
Jack Cooley (18 pts., 10 rebs.) and Scott Martin (11 pts., 12 rebs.) both posted double-doubles in Notre Dame's 67-65 double-overtime victory at Louisville on Jan. 7. Jerian Grant (17 pts.) and Eric Atkins (15 pts.) also reached double-figures.
The Irish overcame a 28-24 halftime deficit en route to the win, which snapped their 16-game losing streak in the state of Kentucky. The Irish had been 0-7 versus Louisville and 0-9 against Kentucky during that stretch.
IRISH IN THE GARDEN
Notre Dame owns a 56-45 (.554) record all-time when playing inside Madison Square Garden. The Irish are 1-1 in the venue this season. The Irish fell to St. John's, 61-58, on Feb. 25.
The Fighting Irish went 1-2 inside Madison Square Garden last season.
FIGHTING IRISH BATTLE BULLS INTO OVERTIME
Notre Dame captured a 57-53 overtime victory over USF on Thursday in the BIG EAST quarterfinals. After falling behind 20-8 at the 12:42 mark of the first half, Notre Dame went on an 18-0 run to grab a 26-20 lead with 3:55 left in the opening half.
Notre Dame led 28-26 at halftime. The Irish are 16-1 this season when leading at the intermission.
It was the 15th time this season Notre Dame held an opponent under 60 points.
Notre Dame only committed nine personal fouls against USF. That is the fewest in program history in a BIG EAST Championship game. The previous low was 12 on four occasions.
The Irish only committed eight turnovers. That marked the 15th time this season that Notre Dame committed fewer than 10 turnovers in a game.
Notre Dame had an assist on 15 of its 18 made field goals versus the Bulls.
With his 10-point, 12-rebound performance on Thursday against USF, senior guard Scott Martin became the first Notre Dame player to record a double-double in BIG EAST Championship play since Luke Harangody (20 pts., 10 rebs.) in a second-round win over Seton Hall during the 2010 tournament. It was Martin's third double-double this season.
Martin has scored in double-figures in all three of his career BIG EAST Championship games. He tallied 11 points in last season's 89-51 quarterfinal win over Cincinnati. He registered 21 points and eight rebounds in an 83-77 overtime loss to Louisville in the 2011 semifinals.
COMING THROUGH IN CLOSE GAMES
Notre Dame is 3-0 in overtime games this season and 6-1 in its last seven overtime contests. The Irish are 10-8 in overtime during the Mike Brey era.
The Irish are 5-2 this season in contests decided by five points or less. In fact, dating back to the 2010-11 campaign, the Irish are 11-2 in their last 13 games decided by five or fewer points. Last year's squad was a perfect 6-0 in those contests.
Thursday's 57-53 overtime victory over USF was the latest drama-filled comeback for the Irish this season. It began in the first half against the Bulls when the Irish erased a 12-point deficit by going on an 18-0 run. Notre Dame trailed by three (45-42) with 39 seconds left in regulation when Jerian Grant stole the ball and was fouled. After Grant made two free throws, the Irish stopped the Bulls and freshman Pat Connaughton made one of two free throw attempts to knot the game (45-45) and force the extra session.
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 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.
Junior forward Jack Cooley has produced a double-double in six of the last nine games. He has a team-best 13 double-doubles this season.
BIG EAST BIG MAN
Junior forward Jack Cooley was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team and was selected as the league's most improved player.
Cooley finished BIG EAST regular-season play ranked first among all league players in shooting percentage (.620). He is 60-for-90 (.667) from the field in the last eight games.
Cooley's .614 shooting percentage currently ranks sixth in Notre Dame history for a single-season mark.
He ranks fifth in the BIG EAST with an 8.9 rpg. average this season. That includes 3.8 offensive boards per game, which ranks second in the league. He is averaging 1.6 blocked shots per game, which ranks fourth among all BIG EAST players.
In BIG EAST regular-season play, Cooley ranked second among all league players with a 10.2 rpg. average. He averaged a league-best 4.6 offensive rebounds per game in BIG EAST play.
Cooley was 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.
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 11-2 in their last 13 contests, including a nine-game win streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 22. Over the course of the last 13 games, the Irish are averaging 64.2 ppg., and allowing their opponents just 57.2 points. In three of those contests, Notre Dame held its opponent to under 50 points.
In the last 13 games, Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 39.3% (288-733) from the field, including 27.8% (55-198) from three-point range.
The Fighting Irish allowed just 59.2 points per game in BIG EAST regular-season play. That average ranked second among all league teams.
The Irish boasted the top three-point defense (25.5%) in BIG EAST regular-season play.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
The Fighting Irish are averaging 6.6 made three-pointers per game this season. Notre Dame has made 10 or more three-pointers in a game five times this season. The Irish are 5-0 in those contests.
In the three games prior to the BIG EAST Championship, the Irish were 12-58 (.207) from three-point range. Notre Dame was 8-16 (.500) from behind the arc against USF on Thursday.
CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
Notre Dame ranks third in the BIG EAST with a .713 free throw percentage.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
Over the last seven games, Notre Dame has only committed 60 turnovers (8.6 per game).
The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game 15 times this season. The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in six of the last seven 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).
Notre Dame has a 1.47 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. That ranks eighth nationally and second among all BIG EAST teams.
The Irish rank third nationally 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 (2.8), while Atkins is 10th (1.9).
ASSISTING IN THE EFFORT
Notre Dame had an assist on 15 of its 18 made field goals against USF on Thursday.
The Irish rank fifth in the BIG EAST with 14.6 assists per game.
Notre Dame has registered at least 20 assists in a game seven times this season.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Notre Dame has a +2.9 rebound margin in its 22 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.
Notre Dame's top three scorers - Jerian Grant (12.5), Jack Cooley (12.4) and Eric Atkins (12.2) - are nearly averaging the same amount of points per game this season.
Seven different Irish players have posted a team-high point total in a game this season.
Junior forward Jack Cooley has led the Irish in scoring a team-best 10 times this season.
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.
Cooley has scored 20-plus points a team-best six times.
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 (399), assists (159), steals (39) and minutes played (1,153). His 53 made three-pointers also are a team- high total.
Grant has four 20-plus point efforts of this season.
Grant ranks 11th nationally - and second in the BIG EAST - with a 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Grant is shooting a team-best 82.1% (110-134) from the free throw line this season. That mark ranks sixth among all BIG EAST players.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins is averaging 12.2 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 36.8% (42-114) from three-point range this season (minimum 20 attempts).
LOGGING MAJOR MINUTES
Three Irish players - Eric Atkins (38.3), Jerian Grant (36.0) and Scott Martin (34.6) - are averaging over 34 minutes per game this season.
In Thursday's overtime win over USF, Grant and Martin played all 45 minutes, while Atkins played 43 minutes.
Atkins has played 40-plus minutes 12 times this season.
BREY'S IRISH ONCE AGAIN AMONG THE BEST IN THE BIG EAST
Notre Dame's 13 regular-season 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.
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).
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 39-112 (.348) from three-point range this season.
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.
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.
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.