#8/8 KENTUCKY (4-1)
NOTRE DAME (6-1)
November 29, 2012 o 7 p.m. (ET)
Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center (9,149)
Notre Dame, Ind.
Dan Shulman (play-by-play)
Dick Vitale (analyst)
Digger Phelps (contributor)
Broadcast on UND.com (free)
Sirius 113/XM 191
Jack Nolan (play-by-play)
LaPhonso Ellis (analyst)
NOTRE DAME TO HOST #8/8 KENTUCKY IN SEC/BIG EAST CHALLENGE
• Notre Dame (6-1) will play host to #8/8 Kentucky (4-1) on Thursday in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
• The SEC/BIG EAST Challenge consists of 12 games over a three-night span.
• This will be Notre Dame's second appearance in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge. In 2010, Notre Dame and Kentucky met at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky., with the Wildcats taking home a 72-58 win.
• This year's matchup will be the 61st meeting between the two teams with Kentucky owning a 42-18 advantage in the series. The Wildcats' last visit to Purcell Pavilion was on March 25, 2009, in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament and the Irish snapped a 10-game losing streak to Kentucky with a 77-67 victory.
• The Wildcats are 5-2 all-time at Purcell Pavilion. It will be the seventh time under Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey that the Irish will face Kentucky. Brey is 1-5 against the Wildcats.
• The 2010 Notre Dame-Kentucky showdown is the only previous meeting between Brey and John Calipari during their head coaching careers.
• Thursday's game can be seen on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.com. Dan Shulman (playby- play), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Digger Phelps (contributor) will be on the call.
• Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and LaPhonso Ellis (analyst) will call the action on radio (affiliate listings on Pg. 2). The broadcast is available on Sirius 113/XM 191 and can also be heard for free on UND.com.
NOVEMBERS TO REMEMBER
• Notre Dame is 45-0 at home in the month of November under head coach Mike Brey. As a program, the Fighting Irish have won 48 straight home contests in November. Notre Dame's last home loss in November was a 76-65 setback to Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 13, 1998.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
• The Fighting Irish are 105-7 in their last 112 games played at home. That .938 home winning percentage over the course of the last seven seasons ranks second nationally. Kansas is first with a .965 mark.
• The Irish are 40-1 (.976) in their last 41 home games. Notre Dame has a current 11- game home win streak.
• Notre Dame has won 23 straight non-conference home games and the Irish are 64-1 in their last 65 non-league home contests. Notre Dame's last non-conference home loss was an 87-85 setback to Loyola Marymount on Dec. 12, 2009. Notre Dame Probable Starting Lineup
BREY VS. TOP 10
• Notre Dame is 16-23 (.410) against teams ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll under head coach Mike Brey. That includes an 11-6 mark at home.
• The last Irish win over a top-10 foe was when they knocked off No. 1 Syracuse, 67-58, on Jan. 21, 2012, inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame has won three straight against top-10 opponents are 4-1 in the last five games against top-10 teams.
• The Irish are 4-4 versus non-conference top-10 opponents under Brey.
• Under Brey, unranked Notre Dame squads are 9-16 against top-10 teams.
• The Fighting Irish have faced a top-10 Kentucky squad once during Brey's tenure. Notre Dame fell to the ninth-ranked Wildcats, 71-63, on Jan. 25, 2004, inside the Joyce Center.
BREY TO COACH 400TH GAME WITH THE IRISH
• Thursday will be head coach Mike Brey's 400th game at Notre Dame. Brey boasts a 266-133 (.667) record during his 13 seasons with the Fighting Irish. It also will be his 550th career game as a college head coach. He carries an all-time record of 364-185 (.663) during his time at Delaware and Notre Dame.
MEN IN BLACK
• Thursday will be a "blackout" at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center and the Irish will wear special black jerseys for the occasion.
• It won't be the first time the Fighting Irish have donned black uniforms. Notre Dame had a black alternate jersey from 2006-10. The Irish went 10- 12 in those uniforms, which featured green and white trim.
• The Irish first wore the jerseys on Feb. 18, 2006, in a 102-91 win at Seton Hall. The last time they broke out the black uniforms was on Jan. 30, 2010, in a 74-73 setback at Rutgers.
• Notre Dame wore the jerseys once at home during a postseason NIT contest against Vanderbilt on March 15, 2006. The Irish were the lower seed and were technically the away team. Notre Dame topped Vanderbilt 79-69.
CHALLENGING THE CHAMPS
• The Fighting Irish are 11-27 all-time against defending national champions. The Irish are 6-4 in their last 10 matchups against the previous season's champion.
• Notre Dame's last win over a defending national champion was a 50-48 win at Connecticut on Jan. 29, 2012.
• The Irish are 1-5 against Kentucky when the Wildcats are the defending national champion.
• Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 37.3% (156-418) from the floor this season. That includes a 31.3% (35-112) mark from three-point range.
• Notre Dame has held its opponents to 23 points or under in the first half four times this season and are yielding just 27.0 points per game in the opening half.
• George Washington's 48 points were the fewest for a Notre Dame opponent since West Virginia scored 44 in a 71-44 Irish victory on Feb. 22, 2012. It marked the second time this season that Notre Dame held an opponent under 50 points (Evansville 49).
DOUBLE-DOUBLE TIMES THREE
• Notre Dame had three players record double-doubles in Monday's win over Chicago State (Jerian Grant 22 points, 10 assists; Eric Atkins 13 points, 11 assists; Jack Cooley 11 points, 11 rebounds). It's the first time the Irish had three double-double performers since Nov. 17, 2010. That game also was against Chicago State. o Atkins and Grant joined elite company with their efforts. In the last 15 years, only one other pair of teammates had points and assists double-doubles in the same game. That was Connecticut's Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker in 2010 against Notre Dame.
IRISH CASH IN AGAINST THE COUGARS
• Notre Dame scored a season-high 92 points in Monday's win over Chicago State. Those were the most points for the Irish since a 106-65 victory over Sacred Heart on Dec. 19, 2011.
• The 27-point margin of victory matched a season-best total that the Irish also achieved against Monmouth (84-57).
• Notre Dame made a season-high 12 three-pointers (on 22 attempts). The Irish made 10 treys in the first half alone (on 16 attempts).
• The Fighting Irish had a season-high 26 assists (on 36 field goals).
• The Irish shot a season-best 61.0% (36-59) from the field.
• Notre Dame outscored Chicago State 42-14 in the paint.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
• The Irish had six double-digit scorers in Monday's victory against Chicago State (Jerian Grant 22, Eric Atkins 13, Garrick Sherman 12, Jack Cooley 11, Scott Martin 11, Pat Connaughton 10). It is the first time that happened for the Irish since Feb. 12, 2011 (vs. USF).
BUSY STRETCH COMING TO AN END
• Thursday will end a stretch that saw the Irish play eight games in 20 days. Notre Dame had nine contests, including one exhibition, on its docket for the month of November before playing just five games in December.
• The Kentucky showdown will be Notre Dame's fourth game in a nine-day stretch. Following the contest against the Wildcats, the Irish will not play again until Dec. 8 versus Brown.
SHERMAN IS SHINING
• Senior center Garrick Sherman has scored in double-figures in each of the last three games. That's the longest such streak of his career. His is shooting 66.7% (18-27) from the field in those three contests. Sherman is leading the team with a 63.3% (31-49) shooting percentage this season (minimum 20 attempts).
• During his two seasons at Michigan State, Sherman had one double-digit scoring effort and he already has notched four this season. He tallied a career-high 22 points against Monmouth (Nov. 12) and registered a game-high 18 points against George Washington (Nov. 21).
• He also hauled down a career-best nine rebounds versus Monmouth.
COOLEY COMING TO PLAY
• Senior forward Jack Cooley is averaging team-best totals in points (14.3) and rebounds (11.3). He has a team-high five double-doubles this season. Cooley is shooting a blistering 73.7% (14-19) from the field in the last three games.
• Cooley has notched two straight double-doubles and has four double-doubles in the last five games. He has registered 18 double-doubles over the last two seasons.
• He is shooting 63.2% (36-57) from the floor this season. Cooley also has a team-high 13 blocked shots.
ATKINS ASSISTING THE IRISH EFFORT
• Junior point guard Eric Atkins registered 13 points and a career-high 11 assists on Monday versus Chicago State. He also had no turnovers in the contest. It was the second double-double of his career.
• Atkins has 17 assists and no turnovers in the last two games. He has a team-best 4.3 assist-to-turnover ratio this season and leads the Irish with 47 assists (6.7 apg).
• His first career double-double was a 12-point, 10-assist effort against Saint Joseph's on Nov. 16.
• Atkins is shooting a team-best 45.0% (9-20) from three-point range (minimum 10 attempts).
GRANT FINDING HIS GROOVE
• Junior guard Jerian Grant tallied 22 points and a career-high 10 assists on Monday against Chicago State. The point total matched a career-high output. It was the second double-double of his career.
• Grant currently has a team-best five-game double-figure scoring streak. He is averaging 15.0 points per game during the streak.
• He ranks second on the team with 33 assists (4.7 apg) and has a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio.
A VETERAN PRESENCE
• The quintet of Eric Atkins (Jr./G), Pat Connaughton (So./G-F), Jack Cooley (Sr./F), Jerian Grant (Jr./G) and Scott Martin (GS/G) has started 21 of the last 22 games for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has gone 16-5 in those contests.
• The Irish returned 2,003 of their 2,257 total points (88.7%) and 1,068 of their 1,144 rebounds (93.4%) from one season ago. The team also brought back 88.7% of its minutes played from last season.
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.
COOLEY ON WOODEN AWARD PRESEASON TOP 50 LIST
• Senior forward Jack Cooley has been named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Chosen by a preseason poll of national college basketball media members, the list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are the early front-runners for college basketball's most prestigious honor.
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 1729-940 for a .648 winning percentage. In 17 seasons as a member of the BIG EAST, the Irish own a 160-130 (.552) record in conference regular-season play.
FIGHTING IRISH PICKED THIRD IN BIG EAST PREASEASON COACHES' POLL o Notre Dame was picked to finish third in the BIG EAST's Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Irish received one first-place vote. Defending BIG EAST tournament champion and 2012 NCAA Final Four participant, Louisville, was the choice to win this year's regular-season crown as the Cardinals garnered 14 votes (coaches are not permitted to vote for their own team). Louisville finished the '11-'12 campaign with a final 31-6 record. Syracuse was tabbed for second place as the Orange are coming off a program-best 34-3 season.
COOLEY AND GRANT GARNER PRESEASON BIG EAST ACCOLADES
• Senior forward Jack Cooley earned a spot on the preseason all-BIG EAST first team. Cooley was a second team all-conference selection as a junior after averaging 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds in league play.
• Junior guard Jerian Grant was named to the league's preseason honorable mention team. Grant averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 assists per game in BIG EAST play last season en route to being named to the conference's all-rookie team.
• 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.
• Every Fighting Irish game during the 2012-13 season can be seen either on television or the internet. Notre Dame will have 21 of its games covered on the ESPN family of networks. The Irish also will have two games each on CBS and TruTV.
IRISH RETURN TO CROSSROADS CLASSIC
• Notre Dame will battle Big Ten rival Purdue in the second annual Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. The game between the Irish and the Boilermakers is part of a doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 15. Indiana and Butler meet in the first game at 2 p.m. (ET) followed by Notre Dame and Purdue at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
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.
• 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 133-89 (.599) mark. He is one of nine coaches in BIG EAST history to record 100 conference wins.
• 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.
BIG EAST BEASTS
• 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 have gone 70-36 (.660) in BIG EAST regular-season play over the past six seasons. That is tied with Pittsburgh for the third-best mark in the league over that time span.
• 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.
NOTRE DAME LISTED AS POTENTIAL HOST FOR ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY
• The ESPN College Basketball GameDay cameras could be returning to Notre Dame during the 2012-13 campaign. ESPN released its College GameDay schedule and Notre Dame's matchup with defending BIG EAST tournament champion and 2012 NCAA Final Four participant Louisville on February 9, 2013, at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center is listed as one of two potential sites for the game. The other game that day which could be part of the Saturday Primetime broadcast is Pittsburgh at Cincinnati.
• The site of the Feb. 9 contest will be chosen closer to the date of the game. The GameDay matchup will be played at 9 p.m. (ET) on ESPN and the game not chosen will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2 at 6 p.m. that evening.
• Notre Dame has hosted the Saturday morning show and primetime basketball contest on one other time -- Jan. 24, 2009, when the Irish played Connecticut.
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.