Dec. 30, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It was only fitting that one day after delivering one of the best performances in his Notre Dame career, three-year starting point guard Eric Atkins (Columbia, Md.) became the first Irish player to earn a weekly accolade from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Atkins, who scored a career-high 30 points in Notre Dame’s 87-81 overtime win over Canisius, was named the ACC Player of the Week. Playing the first game without backcourt mate Jerian Grant, Atkins registered the first 30-point outing of his career with 21 of those points coming in the second half. It was his ninth double-figure scoring effort of the season and the 58th of his career. It also marked just the second 20-plus point outing of his career. Atkins’ previous personal best was 27 points against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 12, 2011.
Heading into the contest, Atkins knew that Irish head coach Mike Brey and his teammates would need him to be more aggressive offensively and that’s what Atkins did. He and Pat Connaughton each played the entire 45 minutes of the game. Atkins connected on a career-high 10 field (on 14 field goal attempts) while making a personal best six three-pointers on eight attempts. He also dished off seven assists and made two steals.
“Going into the game, Eric knew that he needed to be aggressive on the offensive end and that we need him to be a scorer,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “I’m not surprised by his offensive performance because he is a player that can score. He has had nights like that before, but we’ve never needed him to have that kind of scoring mentality as much as we do not. I am proud of him. This recognition today is very fitting for him and what he has done for us throughout his career.”
Atkins connected on five three-pointers in the second and nailed two in the final 5:38 of regulation. He helped the Irish turn a 64-60 deficit with
Atkins, who earlier in the season became the 54th player in Notre Dame history, is averaging a career-best 13.2 points per game and 4.5 assists per game. He has made 80 consecutive starts for the Irish (86 overall) in the 114 career outings that he has played. Atkins owns a 10.1 career scoring average and 4.3 assist average. Atkins is nine assists shy (491) of becoming just the fifth player in Notre Dame history with 1,000 career points and 500 assists.