Feb. 21, 2012
West Virginia (17-10, 7-7) vs. #20/18 Notre Dame (19-8, 11-3)
Feb. 22, 2012 – 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center (9,149)
Notre Dame, Ind.
Rece Davis (play-by-play)
Bob Knight (analyst)
Digger Phelps (analyst)
Broadcast on UND.com
Jack Nolan (play-by-play)
Jordan Cornette (analyst)
#20/18 IRISH PLAY HOST TO WEST VIRGINIA ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT
– #20/18 Notre Dame (19-8, 11-3) will bring an eight-game win streak into its BIG EAST clash with West Virginia (17-10, 7-7) on Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Fighting Irish are tied with Marquette for second in the BIG EAST standings. Notre Dame has clinched a bye into the second round of the BIG EAST Championship.
– This will be the second meeting between the Irish and Mountaineers in a span of two weeks. Notre Dame won at Morgantown, 55-51, on Feb. 8.
– Wednesday’s game will be broadcast by ESPN2/ESPN3 with Rece Davis (play-by-play), Bob Knight (analyst) and Digger Phelps (analyst) calling the action.
– The Fighting Irish Digital Media radio crew of Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst) will call the action on radio (affiliate listings on Pg. 6) and their broadcast can also be heard on UND.com.
NOTRE DAME-WEST VIRGINIA SERIES HISTORY
– Wednesday will be the 39th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and West Virginia. The Irish lead the series 26-12, which includes a 55-51 win at West Virginia on Feb. 8.
– The Irish hold a 16-2 home record against the Mountaineers. Notre Dame has won its last 12 home games versus West Virginia. The last Mountaineer win at Notre Dame was a 57-55 decision on Jan. 17, 1987.
– This will be the 26th meeting between the two schools since both joined the BIG EAST in 1995. The Irish are 17-8 in those contests. The Mountaineers have not won at Notre Dame since they joined the BIG EAST.
– Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey is 13-5 all-time against West Virginia during his Notre Dame tenure. That includes an 8-0 mark at home.
– Notre Dame’s current eight-game BIG EAST win streak matches the longest in program history. The Irish also won eight-straight league contests during the 2000-01 campaign, which was head coach Mike Brey’s first at Notre Dame.
– Four of Notre Dame’s victories during the current eight-game win streak have come on the road. The Irish also have defeated three ranked teams during the streak.
– The Fighting Irish are averaging 66.5 points per game during the streak, while allowing just 57.1 points a game. Notre Dame limited those eight teams to a combined 38.3% (177-462) shooting from the field, including 27.3% (35-128) from three-point range.
ANOTHER BIG YEAR FOR BREY’S IRISH
– Notre Dame has equaled the program’s best start through 14 games of BIG EAST play. The 2000-01 Fighting Irish squad (head coach Mike Brey’s first season at Notre Dame) also began league play with an 11-3 mark and finished 11-5 in what was a 16-game conference regular-season slate.
– The Fighting Irish have clinched a winning record in BIG EAST play for the third straight season and for the 10th time during 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.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
– The Fighting Irish are 98-7 in their last 105 games played at home. That .933 home winning percentage over the course of the last six seasons ranks third nationally.
– The Irish are 33-1 in their last 34 home games. IRISH ENJOY HOME COOKING IN CONFERENCE PLAY
– Notre Dame has gone 45-6 (.882) 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 29-7 (.806) over its last 36 BIG EAST regular-season contests, including a 22-4 (.846) mark in the last 26 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.
QUITE A COMEBACK
– Where does Notre Dame’s 74-70 come-from-behind overtime victory against Villanova rank? As best as the Notre Dame media relations office can tell, when the Irish erased a 20-point first-half deficit (16 at halftime) against the Wildcats, it marked the largest comeback in school history. Below are other Fighting Irish classic comebacks:
– Jan. 19, 1974 – UCLA at Notre Dame … the Irish trailed by 17 points (35-18) with 6:02 left in the first half and they were down by nine at halftime … Notre Dame went on to win 71-70 and snapped #1 UCLA’s 88-game winning streak.
– Feb. 26, 1978 – Marquette at Notre Dame … the Fighting Irish were down by 17 points (34-17) with 3:20 left in the first half and by 14 points at halftime … the Irish then defeated top-ranked Marquette 65-59.
– Jan. 25, 1982 – Idaho at Notre Dame … Notre Dame was down by 18 points (28-10) with 7:32 left in the opening half and by 10 at the intermission … the Irish went on to beat #8 Idaho 50-48 in overtime.
– Feb. 1, 1987 – North Carolina at Notre Dame … the Irish trailed by 16 points (32-16) with 3:16 left in the first half and they were down by nine at halftime … Notre Dame went on to defeat #1 North Carolina 60-58.
– Notre Dame’s four-point wins at West Virginia (55-51) and Villanova in overtime (74-70) provided many dramatic moments for the Irish basketball team.
– In the victory over the Mountaineers on Feb. 8, 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 during the Feb. 18 contest. 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 has won its last four road games. It’s the first time the Irish have won that many consecutive games on the road since they captured five straight during the 2000-01 season (Mike Brey’s first). All five of those wins occurred in BIG EAST play.
– Junior forward Jack Cooley produced his fourth straight double-double with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds on Saturday at Villanova. He is the first Notre Dame player to notch four consecutive double-doubles since Luke Harangody had four straight during the 2008-09 season (March 17-March 31).
– Cooley is averaging a double-double in BIG EAST play (14.4 ppg. and 10.7 rpg.) Over the past four games, he is averaging 20.8 ppg. and 14.3 rpg.
– He has a team-best 10 double-doubles this season (eight in BIG EAST play).
– Cooley has scored 21 points or more three times in the last four games. He has reached his career-high point total of 22 four times this season, including in two of the last three contests.
BIG EAST BIG MAN
– Junior forward Jack Cooley is first among all BIG EAST players with a .618 (118-191) shooting percentage. He is 33-for-45 (.733) from the field in the last four games.
– In BIG EAST play, Cooley ranks second among all league players with a 10.7 rpg. average. He is averaging a league-best 4.8 offensive rebounds per game in BIG EAST play.
– He ranks third in the BIG EAST with a 9.3 rpg. average this season (all games). That includes 4.0 offensive boards per game, which ranks second in the league. He is averaging 1.5 blocked shots per game, which ranks seventh among all BIG EAST players.
– On Monday, Cooley was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for a team-best fifth time this season. He also was named the league’s player of the week on Feb. 13.
PAT PERFORMING FROM THE PERIMETER
– Freshman guard/forward Pat Connaughton was 7-for-12 from three-point range in Saturday’s win at Villanova. 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. Connaughton ranks eighth among all BIG EAST players with a .397 three-point percentage in league play.
– Connaughton’s 21-point performance against Villanova marked his third 20-plus point effort of the season (second in BIG EAST play).
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
– Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins is second among all Irish players with a 13.0 ppg. average this season. He averaged 5.8 ppg. last season as a freshman.
– Atkins has reached double-figures in points in six of the last seven games.
– 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 has led Notre Dame in scoring eight times this season, which is tied for the team lead.
– He is shooting 39.0% (39-100) from three-point range this season. That places him 10th among all BIG EAST players.
– Atkins dished out a BIG EAST career-high eight assists last Wednesday against Rutgers.
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, has team-high totals in points (347), assists (133), steals (35) and minutes played (958). His 44 made three-pointers also are a team-high total.
– He ranks seventh nationally – and first in the BIG EAST – with a 2.89 assist-to-turnover ratio. His 5.4 assist-per-game average in BIG EAST play ranks sixth in the league. He matched a career-high assist total with nine on Saturday against Villanova.
– Grant’s current eight-game double-figuring scoring streak is the best such streak for any Notre Dame player this season. He has scored in double-figures a team-best 22 times this season. Grant tallied a career-high 22 points against DePaul (Feb. 11). That was his third 20-plus point effort of the season.
– Grant is shooting a team-best 80.8% (101-125) from the free throw line this season. That mark ranks ninth among all BIG EAST players.
LOGGING MAJOR MINUTES -Three Irish players – Eric Atkins (39.5), Scott Martin (38.3) and Jerian Grant (37.9) – are averaging over 37 minutes a game in BIG EAST play.
– Atkins has played 40-plus minutes 10 times this season, including seven times in league play. He ranks third in the BIG EAST in minutes played (league games only), while Martin is fifth and Grant is tied for seventh.
– Martin has played 40-plus minutes in five of the last six games.
– In Saturday’s overtime win at Villanova, Atkins played all 45 minutes, while Martin (44), Grant (42) and Jack Cooley (42) all played over 40 minutes.
– The Fighting Irish defense is tied for second in the BIG EAST by surrendering just 59.5 points per game in league play.
– The Irish boast the top three-point defense (26.1%) in BIG EAST play.
– On Saturday, 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). West Virginia had five in the second half on Jan. 9, 2002.
– Notre Dame’s current eight-game win streak has produced some significant achievements for the Fighting Irish program.
– The streak began with a 67-58 home win over #1 Syracuse. 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. 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 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 48 points were the fewest ever for Connecticut against Notre Dame.
– The victory over Marquette 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 halted Notre Dame’s three-game losing streak in Morgantown. West Virginia’s 51 points were the fewest the Mountaineers have ever scored in 38 meetings with the Irish.
BEATING THE BEST
– The Irish have defeated five AP top-25 teams this season. That is tied for the second most nationally. 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).
– Notre Dame is 7-4 against teams currently in the RPI top 50.
CLOSE GAMES … NO PROBLEM
– Notre Dame’s four-point overtime win over Villanova on Saturday marked the fourth straight for the Irish this season in games decided by five or less points. Overall, Coach Mike Brey’s squad is 4-1 this season in games decided by that margin.
– In fact, dating back to the 2010-11 campaign, Notre Dame is 10-1 in its last 11 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 Saturday’s 74-70 overtime triumph at Villanova, 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).
DRAINING FROM DEEP
– The Fighting Irish are averaging 6.9 made three-pointers per game this season. That places them fifth among all BIG EAST teams.
– The Irish made 12 three pointers in Saturday’s win at Villanova. That marked the fifth time this season (second time in BIG EAST play) the Irish made at least 10 treys in a game. The Irish are 5-0 in those contests. CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
– Notre Dame ranks third in the BIG EAST with a .719 free throw percentage (all games). The Irish have made more free throws (411) than their opponents have attempted (395) this season.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
– Notre Dame ranks ninth nationally – and second among all BIG EAST teams – with a 1.43 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.
– The Fighting Irish rank third nationally – and first in the BIG EAST – in fewest turnovers per game (10.2).
– Over the past two games (Rutgers and Villanova), the Irish have had an assist on 36 of their 45 made field goals. Notre Dame has only committed 16 turnovers combined in those two contests.
– The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game 11 times this season (five times in BIG EAST play). Notre Dame had a season- low four turnovers against Sacred Heart (Dec. 19). The BIG EAST low was five at West Virginia (Feb. 8).
SPREADING THE WEALTH
– Seven different Irish players have posted a team-high point total in a game this season.
– Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins and junior forward Jack Cooley have both led the Irish in scoring a team-best eight times this season.