NOTRE DAME VS. GEORGETOWN
Where: Verizon Center (20,000), in Washington D.C.
Records & Rankings: No. 19 Notre Dame (20-9; 12-4 Big East) No. 12 Georgetown (21-6, 11-5).
Time/TV: 7 p.m. EST on ESPN/ESPN3
Last Meeting: The Irish and Hoyas have not squared off since Dec. 29, 2010, when Notre Dame picked up a 69-55 home victory.
Line:Georgetown favored by 6.5.
Forward Jack Cooley and the Irish face Georgetown tonight in the final road game of the regular season
Notre Dame Notes
An impressive nine-game win streak came to a halt at Madison Square Garden Saturday night against St. John’s, 61-58. It was the first loss for the Fighting Irish since Jan. 16 at Rutgers and a terribly cold shooting effort was the culprit. Notre Dame made just 4 of 31 attempts from 3-point range but still managed to claw its way back from a 14-point deficit. The rally came up short and what would have been sixth man Alex Dragicevich’s game-tying 3-pointer bounced off the front of the rim at the horn.
After this past weekend’s games, Notre Dame is a game behind second-place Marquette in the Big East standings. Syracuse has locked up a regular season crown and double-bye in the league tournament next month with a 16-1 record. It’s a critical tilt tonight in our nation’s capital. Georgetown is tied with South Florida for fourth place at 11-5. The top-four teams earn a double-bye.
Following its 65-58 loss at Rutgers last month, Notre Dame stood at 11-8 overall and 3-3 in the Big East. Prior to its recent nine-game win streak, Notre Dame was averaging 68.9 points per game and allowing 64.4 points per game. Over the course of the last 10 games, the Irish are averaging 66.1 points per outing, but holding opponents to 56.2 points. In three of those contests Notre Dame held its opponent to under 50 points. Overall, Notre Dame is giving up 58.6 points per contest, which ranks second behind South Florida. In the last 10 games, Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 38.4 percent (216-563) from the field, including 26.0 percent (39-150) from three-point range.
Jack Cooley — The junior foward has produced a double-double in five of the last six games. He has a team-best 11 double-doubles this season (nine in Big East play). He tallied 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds on Saturday at St. John's. Cooley is averaging a double-double in conference play (14.6 ppg. and 10.4 rpg.) Over the past five games, he is averaging 19.0 ppg. and 12.3 rpg. He has scored 21 points or more three times during that six-game stretch.
Eric Atkins — The sophomore point guard is tied with Grant for a team-best 12.7 points-per-game average this season. Atkins has reached double-figures in points in seven of the last nine 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. He is shooting 37.4 percent (40-107) from three-point range this season
Jerian Grant — The sophomore guard had his nine-game double-figure scoring streak snapped at St. John's and registered just two points. He has team-high totals in points (369), assists (143), steals (36) and minutes played (1.032).
Pat Connaughton — The freshman is averaging 7.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. The rookie has started 13 of 29 games this season and is averaging 23.3 minutes per game, sharing time with Dragicevich.
Scott Martin — The fifth-year senior is scoring 9.4 points and securing 5.7 rebounds per game. He has added 12 blocks, 26 steals and is averaging at least one charge taken per game.
The Hoyas answered critics following a 73-55 loss at Providence with a 67-46 win over Villanova on Feb. 25.
Four Georgetown players reached double figures, with Jason Clark and Otto Porter leading the way with 15 apiece. The Hoyas pounded Villanova on the boards (41-24) for a 14-7 advantage in second-chance points. The Hoyas shot 37.5 percent from 3-point land in the first half but went 0-for-5 after the break. Clark is averaging a team-high 13.1 points per game in league play.
Georgetown boasts the third-best scoring defense in the league after surrendering 59.5 points per game, and leads the Big East in field-goal percentage defense (.385). The Hoyas are shooting 34 percent from behind the arc and are second to Notre Dame in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to connect on only 29 percent of long-range attempts.
Georgetown is the second-best rebounding team in the league behind West Virginia, grabbing 4.7 more boards per game than its opponents. Most of those are on defense, however. Georgetown is 13th in the Big East in offensive rebounds per game (11.1). Ball movement has been an issue at times for the Hoyas, which hasn’t registered many assists and are averaging a negative-1.19 turnover margin.
If Notre Dame can get good looks and make the most of every possession it will offset Georgetown’s defensive rebounding presence. A major effort is needed by Notre Dame to limit second opportunities for the Hoyas.
Morgan’s prediction: Georgetown 77, Notre Dame 70