Feb. 24, 2012
#20/18 Notre Dame (20-8, 12-3) vs. St. John’s (12-16, 5-10)
Feb. 25, 2012 – Noon (ET)
Madison Square Garden (19,786)
New York, N.Y.
Dave Pasch (play-by-play)
Doris Burke (analyst)
Broadcast on UND.com
Jack Nolan (play-by-play)
Jordan Cornette (analyst)
#20/18 IRISH HEAD TO NEW YORK CITY TO FACE ST. JOHN’S
- #20/18 Notre Dame (20-8, 12-3) will look to extend its program-record nine-game BIG EAST win streak on Saturday at St. John’s (12-16, 5-10). Tip-off is scheduled for noon (ET) inside Madison Square Garden. This is the only regular-season meeting between the Irish and Red Storm this season.
- This will be the first of two road games in a three-day span for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame will play at Georgetown on ESPN’s Big Monday.
- Notre Dame is tied with Marquette for second in the BIG EAST standings. The Irish already have clinched a bye into the second round of the BIG EAST Championship.
- Saturday’s game will be broadcast by ESPN2/ESPN3 with Dave Pasch (play-by-play) and Doris Burke (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.
- Saturday will be Mike Brey’s 200th BIG EAST regular-season game. He has a 124-75 (.623) regular-season record in the league.
NOTRE DAME-ST. JOHN’S SERIES HISTORY
- Saturday will be the 38th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and St. John’s. The Fighting Irish hold a 20-17 edge in the series. Both teams have alternated wins over the course of the last eight games of the series. Last season, the Irish captured a 76-61 home win over the Red Storm (Jan. 8, 2011) before falling at St. John’s, 72-54 (Jan. 16, 2011).
- The Irish are 5-6 all-time against St. John’s inside Madison Square Garden, including a 1-1 mark in the BIG EAST Tournament. Notre Dame has dropped its last three contests against St. John’s inside Madison Square Garden. The last Irish win over the Red Storm in that facility was an 89-62 triumph on March 5, 2004.
- Notre Dame is 11-9 against St. John’s since joining the BIG EAST in 1995.
- Head coach Mike Brey is 7-6 against St. John’s during his Notre Dame tenure.
FIGHTING IRISH IN MSG
- Notre Dame owns a 55-44 (.556) record all-time when playing inside Madison Square Garden. The Irish went 1-2 inside Madison Square Garden last season. Notre Dame fell to St. John’s (72-54) during the regular season and topped Cincinnati (89-51) in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Tournament before falling to Louisville (83-77 in ot) in the semifinals.
- Notre Dame’s current nine-game win streak is the longest BIG EAST win streak in program history and is the third longest for an Irish team under Mike Brey. The 2006-07 campaign saw Notre Dame put together a 12-game win streak, while the 2007-08 squad had a 10-game streak.
- Four of Notre Dame’s victories during the current nine-game win streak have come on the road. The Irish also have defeated three ranked teams during the streak.
- The Fighting Irish are averaging 67.0 points per game during the streak, while allowing just 55.7 points a game. Notre Dame limited those nine teams to a combined 37.6% (194-516) shooting from the field, including 25.9% (36-139) from three-point range.
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. Prior to its nine-game win streak, Notre Dame was averaging 68.9 ppg. and allowing its opponents 64.4 ppg. Over the course of the last nine games, the Irish are averaging 67.0 ppg, but allowing their opponents just 55.7 points. In three of those contests, Notre Dame held its opponent to under 50 points.
Comparing the Numbers First 19 games Last 9 games FG Pct. ND 43.2 ND 43.9 OPP 41.8 OPP 37.6 3FG Pct. ND 32.2 ND 38.9 OPP 33.0 OPP 25.9 FT Pct. ND 70.4 ND 75.3 OPP 72.5 OPP 66.4 Rebs. ND 34.3 ND 34.7 OPP 35.5 OPP 32.3 Pts. ND 68.9 ND 67.0 OPP 64.4 OPP 55.7
BREY’S IRISH ONCE AGAIN AMONG THE BEST IN THE BIG EAST
- Notre Dame’s 12-3 BIG EAST record is the program’s best start through 15 games of BIG EAST play. The 12 league victories are the third-most in program history. The Irish won 14 BIG EAST contests in 2007-08 (14-4) and 2010-11 (14-4).
- The Fighting Irish have clinched a winning record in BIG EAST play for the third straight season and for the 10th time 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.
TOPPING THE MOUNTAINEERS
- Notre Dame produced a solid all-around effort in Wednesday’s 71-44 win over West Virginia.
- The Irish shot 61.4% (27-44) from the field for the game. That matched a season-high percentage for Notre Dame. The Irish also shot 61.4% against Sacred Heart (December 19th).
- Notre Dame shot 63.2% (12-19) from the floor in the first half. That is the highest percentage for the Irish in a first half this season.
- West Virginia’s 44 points were a season-low total for the Mountaineers. It also was the lowest point total ever for the Mountaineers against the Irish (39 games). The previous low was 51 from this season’s 55-51 Irish win in Morgantown (Feb. 8).
SECOND HALF SHUTDOWNS
- Notre Dame has used impressive second-half defensive efforts in the past two wins.
- Last 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). The Wildcats scored just 21 points in the second stanza.
- On Wednesday, 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 408-407 in the first half of play, but the Irish have a 530-444 scoring advantage in the second half.
IRISH GET OFFENSIVE
- Notre Dame has scored over 70 points in each of the last four games. That’s the first time this season that the Irish have netted 70 or more points in four straight contests.
- 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.
BIG EAST TRENDS
- Notre Dame is 30-7 (.811) over its last 37 BIG EAST regular-season contests, including a 23-4 (.852) mark in the last 27 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.
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
- The Fighting Irish are 99-7 in their last 106 games played at home. That .934 home winning percentage over the course of the last six seasons ranks third nationally.
- The Irish are 34-1 (.971) in their last 35 home games.
IRISH ENJOY HOME COOKING IN CONFERENCE PLAY
- Notre Dame has gone 46-6 (.885) 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’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.
- Junior forward Jack Cooley has produced a double-double in four of the last five games. He has a team-best 10 double-doubles this season (eight in BIG EAST play).
- Cooley is averaging a double-double in BIG EAST play (14.3 ppg. and 10.4 rpg.) Over the past five games, he is averaging 19.2 ppg. and 12.6 rpg.
- Cooley has scored 21 points or more three times in the last five games. He has reached his career-high point total of 22 four times this season, including in two of the last four contests.
BIG EAST BIG MAN
- Junior forward Jack Cooley is first among all BIG EAST players in shooting percentage for all games (.621) and league games only (.619). He is 38-for-52 (.731) from the field in the last five games.
- In BIG EAST play, Cooley ranks second among all league players with a 10.4 rpg. average. He is averaging a league-best 4.6 offensive rebounds per game in BIG EAST play.
- He ranks fifth in the BIG EAST with a 9.2 rpg. average this season (all games). That includes 3.9 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.
- 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.
GRANT HAS ALL-AROUND GAME
- Sophomore guard Jerian Grant scored a game-high 20 points on Wednesday against West Virginia. He was 8-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-5 from three-point range. The four treys were a career-high total. That was his fourth 20-plus point effort of the season (second in BIG EAST play).
- Grant’s current nine-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 23 times this season.
- Grant, who is in his first season playing with the Irish after sitting out all of last season, has team-high totals in points (367), assists (136), steals (36) and minutes played (993). His 48 made three-pointers also are a team-high total.
- He ranks seventh nationally – and first in the BIG EAST – with a 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. His 5.3 assist-per-game average in BIG EAST play ranks sixth in the league. He matched a career-high assist total with nine last Saturday against Villanova.
- 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.
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 seven of the last eight 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 38.2% (39-102) from three-point range this season. That places him 12th among all BIG EAST players.
- Atkins dished out a BIG EAST career-high eight assists in two of the last three games (Rutgers & West Virginia).
PAT PERFORMING FROM THE PERIMETER
- Freshman guard/forward Pat Connaughton was 7-for-12 from three-point range in last 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 11th among all BIG EAST players with a .390 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).
LOGGING MAJOR MINUTES
- Three Irish players – Eric Atkins (39.5), Scott Martin (38.1) and Jerian Grant (37.7) – 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 sixth and Grant is eighth.
- In last 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 ranks first in the BIG EAST by surrendering just 58.5 points per game in league play.
- The Irish also boast the top three-point defense (25.3%) in BIG EAST play.
- Notre Dame’s current nine-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 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.
- Notre Dame overcame a 20-point deficit in a 74-70 overtime win at Villanova on Feb. 18.
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 last 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 the 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). That includes a 5-1 mark in the last six overtime games.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
- The Fighting Irish are averaging 6.8 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.
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 (419) than their opponents have attempted (408) this season.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
- Notre Dame ranks ninth nationally – and second among all BIG EAST teams – with a 1.4 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 last three games, the Irish have had an assist on 53 of their 72 made field goals. Notre Dame has only committed 25 turnovers combined in those three contests.
- Notre Dame ranks fifth in BIG EAST play with 14.4 assists per game.
- The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game 12 times this season (six 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.
- 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 five times this season.
- 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.