Feb. 17, 2012
#23/25 Notre Dame (18-8, 10-3) vs. Villanova (11-14, 4-9) Feb. 18, 2012 – 9:00 p.m. (ET) Wells Fargo Center (20,056) Philadelphia, Pa.
Beth Mowins (play-by-play)
Tim Welsh (analyst)
Broadcast on UND.com
Jack Nolan (play-by-play)
Jordan Cornette (analyst)
#23/25 IRISH HEAD TO VILLANOVA IN PURSUIT OF EIGHTH STRAIGHT WIN
- #23/25 Notre Dame (18-8, 10-3) will take its seven-game win streak to Villanova (11-14, 4-9) for a Saturday night showdown. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. (ET) inside the Wells Fargo Center. The Fighting Irish currently are tied with Marquette for second in the BIG EAST standings.
- This is the only regular-season meeting between the Irish and Wildcats.
- Notre Dame has won its last three road games and are 4-2 on the road in BIG EAST play this season.
- Saturday’s game will be broadcast by ESPNU/ESPN3 with Beth Mowins (play-by-play) and Tim Welsh (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-VILLANOVA SERIES HISTORY
- Saturday will be the 34th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Villanova. The Wildcats lead the series 18-15. The Irish won last season’s only meeting, 93-72, inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center (Feb. 28, 2011). Notre Dame made a school-record 20 three-pointers in that contest.
- Notre Dame is 5-13 against Villanova since the Irish joined the BIG EAST in 1995, but the two teams have split the last 10 meetings.
- The Fighting Irish are 6-10 all-time at Villanova. Notre Dame’s last win at Villanova was a 90-80 decision on Jan. 26, 2008.
- Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is 5-6 against Villanova during his Fighting Irish tenure, which includes a 2-3 mark at Villanova.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
- Notre Dame’s current seven-game BIG EAST win streak matches the second-longest in school history and is one shy of the school mark set by the 2000-01 team in head coach Mike Brey’s first season.
- The 2010-11 Irish squad won seven straight en route to a 14-4 final regular-season record.
- A win against Villanova would equal Notre Dame’s best start in BIG EAST play since becoming a conference member in 1995-96. The 2000-01 Irish team was 11-3 before finishing the campaign with an 11-5 league mark in what was a 16-game conference regular-season slate.
ANOTHER BIG YEAR FOR BREY’S IRISH
- 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.
- Three of Notre Dame’s victories during the current seven-game win streak have come on the road. The Irish also have defeated three ranked teams during the streak.
- The Fighting Irish are averaging 65.4 points per game during the streak, while allowing just 55.3 points a game. Notre Dame limited those seven teams (Syracuse, Seton Hall, Connecticut, Marquette, West Virginia, DePaul, Rutgers) to a combined 38.3% (153-399) shooting from the field, including 25.7% (28-109) from three-point range.
BREY, WRIGHT KNOW EACH OTHER WELL
- Mike Brey and Villanova coach Jay Wright are certainly no strangers matching coaching wits against each other. Saturday’s matchup will be the 25th time the two have faced each other on opposite sidelines. When both were former coaches in the America East Conference (Brey at Delaware and Wright at Hofstra), the two faced each other 14 times with Brey owning a 10-4 advantage in their coaching series. As BIG EAST counterparts, Wright owns a 6-4 edge in the 10 meetings. Brey leads the all-time series between the two 14-10.
- Junior forward Jack Cooley produced his third straight double-double with a career-high tying 22 points and a career-high 18 rebounds on Wednesday against Rutgers. He is the first Notre Dame player to notch three consecutive double-doubles since Luke Harangody had three straight during the 2009-10 season. It’s also the first time an Irish player has had 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in three straight games since Harangody during the 2008-09 campaign.
- Cooley is averaging a double-double in BIG EAST play (14.2 ppg. and 10.5 rpg.) Over the past three games, he is averaging 21.7 ppg. and 14.7 rpg.
- He has a team-best nine double-doubles this season (seven in BIG EAST play).
- Cooley is the first Notre Dame player to score 20-plus points in three straight BIG EAST games since Ben Hansbrough did so in five consecutive league games last season.
BIG EAST BIG MAN
- Junior forward Jack Cooley has reached his career-high point total of 22 four times this season, including in each of the past two contests. His other two 22-point efforts came in back-to-back outings earlier this season (Maine and Dartmouth).
- Cooley has scored 20-plus points in each of the past three games. That is a career-best streak for the junior. He has scored over 20 points a team-best five times this season.
- He is first among all BIG EAST players with a .611 (110-180) shooting percentage.
- In BIG EAST play, Cooley ranks second among all league players with a 10.5 rpg. average. He is averaging a league-best 4.8 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 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 NAMED BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
- On Monday, junior forward Jack Cooley was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week after registering back-to-back double-doubles for Notre Dame in wins last week against West Virginia and DePaul. It was his first career player-of-the-week honor. Cooley has been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on four occasions this season.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
- Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins is second among all Irish players with a 12.8 ppg. average 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 has led Notre Dame in scoring eight times this season, which is tied for the team lead.
- He is shooting 39.8% (37-93) from three-point range this season. That places him ninth among all BIG EAST players.
- Atkins dished out a BIG EAST career-high eight assists on 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 (337), assists (124), steals (33) and minutes played (916). His 41 made three-pointers also are a team-high total.
- Entering this week, he ranked fifth nationally – and first in the BIG EAST – with a 3.10 assist-to-turnover ratio. His 5.2 assist-per-game average in BIG EAST play ranks sixth in the league.
- Grant tallied a career-high 22 points last Saturday against DePaul. That was his third 20-plus point effort of the season. He has scored in double-figures a team-best 21 times this season, including in each of the past seven games, which is a career-best streak.
- Grant is shooting a team-best 81.3% (100-123) from the free throw line this season. That mark ranks seventh among all BIG EAST players. He has made his last 16 free throw attempts.
FIGHTING IRISH CRACK THE POLLS
- With Notre Dame entering both the Associated Press (#23) and ESPN/USA Today (#25) polls for the first time this season on Monday, it marks the sixth straight season that the Irish have been ranked.
- This is the latest into a season that an Irish team has been ranked for the first time since the 1986-87 campaign. That year, Notre Dame entered the polls on March 2 after (coincidentally) winning six straight games.
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 28-7 (.800) over its last 35 BIG EAST regular-season contests, including a 21-4 (.840) mark in the last 25 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.
LOGGING MAJOR MINUTES
- Three Irish players – Eric Atkins (39.1), Scott Martin (37.8) and Jerian Grant (37.5) – are averaging over 37 minutes a game in BIG EAST play.
- Atkins has played 40-plus minutes nine times this season, including six times in league play. He ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in minutes played (league games only), while Martin is seventh and Grant is eighth.
- Martin has played all 40 minutes in four of the last five games.
- The Fighting Irish defense ranks first in the BIG EAST by surrendering just 58.7 points per game in league play.
- The Irish boast the top three-point defense (25.1%) in BIG EAST play.
- In league play, Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 40.2% (294-732) from the field. That percentage ranks sixth in the conference.
- Notre Dame’s current seven-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 4-4 against teams currently in the RPI top 25.
CLOSE GAMES … NO PROBLEM
- Notre Dame’s four-point win over West Virginia on Feb. 8 marked the third straight for the Irish this season in games decided by five or less points. Overall, Coach Mike Brey’s squad is 3-1 this season in games decided by that margin.
- In fact, dating back to the 2010-11 campaign, Notre Dame is 9-1 in its last 10 games decided by five or fewer points. Last year’s squad was a perfect 6-0 in those contests.
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 four times this season. The Irish are 4-0 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 (399) than their opponents have attempted (375) this season.
- The Irish were 24-of-32 from the charity stripe on Wednesday versus Rutgers. That tied the most free throw makes for the Irish in a BIG EAST game this season.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
- Entering this week, Notre Dame ranked 12th nationally – and second among all BIG EAST teams – with a 1.38 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.
- The Fighting Irish rank fifth nationally – and first in the BIG EAST – in fewest turnovers per game (10.4).
- The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game 10 times this season (four 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).
- The Irish had an assist on 16 of their 20 field goals on Wednesday against Rutgers.
- 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.
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, including a current stretch of three straight games with 20 or more points.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
- The Fighting Irish have a +4.2 rebound margin in their 18 wins, while they have been out-rebounded by an 8.7 margin in their eight setbacks.
- Notre Dame is 12-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent.
NOTRE DAME KNOCKS OFF #1 AGAIN
- The 67-58 win over Syracuse on Jan. 21 was Notre Dame’s 10th all-time against a top-ranked team. Notre Dame is 10-23 all-time against No. 1 ranked teams. Eight of the victories have come against the top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll, which is the ranking the NCAA uses to recognize wins over No. 1 teams. The eight wins are tied for fourth nationally.
- It was Notre Dame’s first win over a No. 1 since topping North Carolina, 60-58, on Feb. 1, 1987 inside Purcell Pavilion.
- Notre Dame has won an NCAA record six straight home games against No. 1 teams. The Irish are 7-3 at home against top-ranked teams.
- It was the third time an un-ranked Irish squad defeated a No. 1 team in 18 tries.
- Notre Dame never trailed in the win over Syracuse. The largest Irish lead was 18 points (35-17 with 1:28 left in the first half).