Dec. 26, 2011
Fighting Irish Open BIG EAST Play At Home Versus Pitt Irish looking for fourth straight win over the Panthers.
#15/13 Pittsburgh (11-2, 0-0) vs. Notre Dame (8-5, 0-0)
Dec. 27, 2011 o 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center (9,149)
Notre Dame, Ind.
ESPN2/ESPN3 Dave O’Brien (play-by-play) Bob Knight (analyst) Radio:
Broadcast on UND.com Jack Nolan (play-by-play) Jordan Cornette (analyst) Live Stats:
GameTracker (UND.com) Live Blog:
IRISH OPEN BIG EAST SLATE AT HOME AGAINST PITTSBURGH
- Notre Dame (8-5) will open its 17th season of BIG EAST Conference play on Tuesday with a home showdown against #15/13 Pittsburgh (11-2). Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
- The game will be broadcast on ESPN2/ESPN3 with Dave O’Brien (play-by-play) and Bob Knight (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. 5) and their broadcast can also be heard on UND.com.
- This will be the 57th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. The Irish lead the series, 29-27. Notre Dame has won the last three meetings, including a 56-51 victory last season at then No. 2 Pittsburgh. The Fighting Irish boast a 16-9 home record against the Panthers.
- Notre Dame’s current three-game win streak over Pittsburgh is its longest win streak against the Panthers since the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96. The Fighting Irish are 13-12 against the Panthers since joining the BIG EAST.
- Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is 9-8 all-time against Pittsburgh.
- The Irish concluded non-conference play last Monday with a 106-65 home win over Sacred Heart.
- The Fighting Irish are 62-15 (.805) in December under head coach Mike Brey.
- Notre Dame’s 27-game home win streak currently is the fourth-longest streak in the country. It is the second-longest win streak inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in Irish history. The Fighting Irish won 45 straight at the Joyce Center from March 4, 2006-Jan. 10, 2009.
IRISH ENJOY HOME COOKING IN CONFERENCE PLAY
- Notre Dame has gone 39-5 (.886) at home in BIG EAST play over the last five seasons. That is the best home winning percentage for any BIG EAST school in league play over that time period.
- Notre Dame has won 11 straight BIG EAST games inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The Irish went undefeated at home in conference play last season. Notre Dame’s last loss at home was a 69-68 setback to St. John’s on Feb. 14, 2010.
IRISH IN BIG EAST OPENERS
- Notre Dame is 10-6 all-time in BIG EAST openers and 7-4 under head coach Mike Brey. Last season, the Irish captured a 69-55 win over #9/9 Georgetown in the league lid-lifter.
- Notre Dame has won each of its last five BIG EAST openers. Its last loss in a league opener came at Pittsburgh (100-97 in double overtime) on Jan 4, 2006.
- This will be the fourth time that Notre Dame has opened BIG EAST play against Pittsburgh. The Irish opened the 1997-98 (W, 73-69), 2002-03 (L, 55-72) and 2005-06 (L, 97-100 2ot) league campaigns against the Panthers.
- This is the third straight season, and the sixth time overall, in 17 seasons that Notre Dame has begun the conference season at home.
- Notre Dame BIG EAST opener wins the last five years:
- vs. Louisville (78-62) on Jan. 3, 2007
vs. West Virginia (69-56) on Jan. 3, 2008
at DePaul (92-82) on Dec. 31, 2008
vs. Providence (93-78) on Dec. 30, 2009
vs. Georgetown (69-55) on Dec. 29, 2010
SHUFFLING THE LINEUP
- Notre Dame has used eight different starting lineups this season (out of 13 games played). No Notre Dame player has started every game this season (game-by-game starting lineups listed on page 7). Jerian Grant and Scott Martin both have a team-high 12 starts this season.
- Six different Irish players – Joey Brooks (Jr./G), Jack Cooley (Jr./F), Tom Knight (Jr./F), Jerian Grant (So./G), Alex Dragicevich (So./G) and Pat Connaughton (Fr./G-F) – have made their first career start this season.
HITTING THE CENTURY MARK
- Notre Dame scored a season-high 106 points in last Monday’s 106-65 win over Sacred Heart. It marked the first time the Irish scored 100-plus points since a 102-62 win over Chicago State on Nov. 17, 2010. It was the largest point total for the Irish since a 108-62 win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 8, 2007. It signified the 14th time during the Mike Brey era that the Irish have scored 100 or more points.
- The 41-point margin of victory against Sacred Heart was Notre Dame’s largest since a 46-point win (108-62) over Northern Illinois on Dec. 8, 2007.
- Notre Dame shot a season-best 61.4% (35-57) from the field against Sacred Heart. It marked the first time the Irish shot above 60% from the field since they connected on 60.7% (37-61) of their shots in a 101-69 win over Bucknell on Dec. 22, 2009. The 35 made field goals versus Sacred Heart also were a season-high total for Notre Dame.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
- The Fighting Irish had five players score in double-figures in the win over Sacred Heart. Jack Cooley (19), Jerian Grant (15), Eric Atkins (13), Joey Brooks (12) and Alex Dragicevich (12) all reached double-digits. That marked the second time this season that the Irish had five double-digit scorers. Notre Dame also had five in double-figures against Bryant on Nov. 27.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
- Notre Dame committed a season-low four turnovers in the victory over Sacred Heart. The Irish also had a season-high 25 assists (on 35 made baskets) versus the Pioneers.
- The Fighting Irish have a 1.50 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.
- Six Notre Dame players – Tim Abromaitis, Eric Atkins, Pat Connaughton, Jack Cooley, Jerian Grant and Scott Martin – have scored 20 or more points in a game this season.
- Atkins, Cooley and Grant all have scored 20-plus points a team-best two times this season.
COOLEY COMING TO PLAY
- Since missing the Maryland game on Dec. 4 due to illness, junior forward Jack Cooley has averaged 18.8 ppg., 9.0 rpg. and 2.5 bpg. in the past four contests. He is shooting 79.4% (27-34) from the field and 87.5% (21-24) from the free throw line during that stretch.
- Cooley posted a career-high 22 points in back-to-back contests (Maine and Dartmouth) and then deposited 12 points against Indiana and 19 versus Sacred Heart. The four-game double-digit scoring streak is a career-best for Cooley.
- Cooley was 7-for-7 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free throw line against Sacred Heart.
- He has a team-high two double-doubles this season (Delaware State & Maine).
- Against Delaware State, Cooley hauled down a career-high 17 rebounds, which included 10 offensive boards. He became the first Irish player to haul down that many rebounds in a game since Luke Harangody had 17 against Louisville on Feb. 12, 2009.
- Cooley leads the Irish with a 7.7 rpg. average this season.
SUCCESS AT THE STRIPE
- The Irish have made more free throws (230) than their opponents have attempted (197). Notre Dame is 230-319 (.721) from the charity stripe this season.
- Notre Dame made a season-high 27 free throws (on 34 attempts) in the win over Sacred Heart on Dec. 19.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
- Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins has a team-best 13.9 ppg. average this season. Atkins has scored in double-figures in eight of the 11 games he has played in this season. He missed two games (Sam Houston State & Delaware State) due to illness. He has led Notre Dame in scoring a team-high five times this season.
- Atkins matched a career-high assist total with nine the last time out versus Sacred Heart. He also had nine earlier this season against Bryant (Nov. 27).
- Atkins deposited a career-high 27 points versus Mississippi Valley State in the season opener.
- Atkins is 44-55 (.800) from the free throw line and 17-34 (.500) from three-point range. Both of those are team-best figures this season.
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 (165), assists (57), steals (16) and minutes played (428). His 18 made three-pointers are tied for the team lead. Grant also boasts a team-best 3.35 assist-to-turnover ratio.
- Grant has scored in double-figures a team-best 10 times this season.
- Grant scored a career-high 20 points against both Georgia (Nov. 22) and Maryland (Dec. 4).
- Grant posted his first career double-double by notching 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds against Bryant on Nov. 27.
- Sophomores Jerian Grant, Eric Atkins and Alex Dragicevich along with freshman Pat Connaughton have accounted for 55.6% of Notre Dame’s scoring this season. They have tallied 525 of the team’s 945 points.
DRAGICEVICH DRAINING FROM DEEP
- Sophomore guard Alex Dragicevich is tied for the team lead with 18 made three-pointers this season. Dragicevich is 7-15 (.467) from beyond the arc in the last three games. Dragicevich is averaging 12.5 ppg. in the last four games.
GET TO 60
- Notre Dame is 7-1 this season when scoring 60 or more points, while the Irish are 1-4 when scoring less than 60 points. The Fighting Irish are averaging 81.0 ppg. in their eight wins, while they are averaging 59.4 ppg. in the five losses.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
- The Fighting Irish have a +7.9 rebound margin in their eight wins, while they have been out-rebounded by an 11.6 margin in their five setbacks.
- Junior forward Tom Knight scored a career-high nine points last Monday against Sacred Heart. He has established a career-high point total in three of the last four games. Knight matched a then career-high with seven points versus Maine before dropping eight points in the next contest against Dartmouth.
- Freshman Pat Connaughton has scored in double-figures four times this season.
- Connaughton’s 24 points against Sam Houston State (Nov. 16) were the most for a Notre Dame freshman since Torin Francis had 25 against Arizona in the Sweet 16 of the 2003 NCAA Tournament (March 27, 2003).
- Connaughton’s six made three-pointers (on 10 attempts) against Sam Houston State were the most for an Irish freshman since Chris Thomas had six against Connecticut in the semifinals of the 2002 BIG EAST Tournament (March 8, 2002).
- Connaughton’s 24 points off the bench in the Sam Houston State game were the most bench points by an Irish player since Chris Quinn netted 25 against Quinnipiac during the 2003-04 campaign (Dec. 23, 2003).
DRAINING FROM DEEP
- Notre Dame has hit 10 or more three-pointers in a game three times this season. The Irish deposited 11 treys against Bryant (Nov. 27) and Delaware State (Nov. 18) and they hit 10 versus Sam Houston State (Nov. 16). The Fighting Irish made 10 or more three-pointers in a game seven times last season.
421 AND COUNTING
- Notre Dame has made at least one three-pointer in 421 straight contests dating back to the 1998-99 campaign. The Fighting Irish have made at least one three pointer during every game of the Mike Brey era. The last time an Irish team failed to hit a three-pointer in a game was in a 101-70 loss to Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center on Jan. 12, 1999. Notre Dame finished 0-7 from beyond the arc in that contest. In 2008-09, the Irish set a single-season three-point record with 319.
- Eight teams on Notre Dame’s 2011-12 schedule are ranked in the latest Associated Press top-25 poll (Dec. 19). Six of the squads – #1 Syracuse, #4 Louisville, #8 Connecticut, #10 Marquette, #15 Pittsburgh and #16 Georgetown – are BIG EAST foes, while the Fighting Irish faced #9 Missouri and #17 Indiana in non-conference action. The Irish will meet ninth-ranked UConn twice during the regular season.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
- Notre Dame will have 17 television appearances during the 2011-12 season. The Irish will appear on ESPN’s family of networks 16 times in addition to being on CBS once.
- 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.