NOTRE DAME VS. PURDUE
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,165) in Indianapolis.
Records & Rankings: No. 22 Notre Dame (8-1); Purdue (4-5).
Time/TV: 4:32 p.m. EST Saturday on ESPN2.
Last Meeting: Notre Dame topped the Boilermakers 71-59 on March 17, 2004, in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.
Senior forward Jack Cooley leads ND back into action Saturday vs. Purdue
Notre Dame Notes
Notre Dame will take on Big Ten opponent Purdue Saturday in the second annual Close the Gap Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. The showdown is the second game of a doubleheader, with Indiana and Butler squaring off at 2 p.m. The Fighting Irish are riding a six-game win streak after beating Brown 84-57 victory on Dec. 8.
Astonishingly, these two teams had gone 38 years without playing before the 2004 NIT contest. The Fighting Irish and Boilermakers have met nine previous times in Indianapolis. Notre Dame is 7-2 in those contests, which all took place inside Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse. The last showdown in Indianapolis was a 70-58 Purdue victory on Dec. 27, 1960. Notre Dame is 231-207 all-time against teams currently in the Big Ten Conference. That includes a 5-10 mark under head coach Mike Brey. Purdue is the first Big Ten foe the Irish have faced since a 69-58 setback to Indiana during last season's Crossroads Classic.
It’s the first of four games over seven days for Notre Dame, which has played just one game since the Nov. 29 win over then-No. 8 Kentucky. The Fighting Irish are allowing just 58.3 points per game this season. That is the best mark for the Irish through the first nine contests of a season since 2004-05 when they allowed 57.6 points per game.
Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 37.5 percent (196-522) from the floor this season. That includes a 31.8 percent (48-151) mark from three-point range.
Jack Cooley — The senior forward leads the team with 14.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and is 16th nationally with a .608 (48-79) shooting percentage. He is tied for second nationally with seven double-doubles this season and has registered four straight.
Eric Atkins — The junior point guard is averaging 10.9 points and seven assists per game, is tied for eighth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.25) and is tied for ninth nationally in assists per game (7.0). Atkins has 33 assists and one turnover in the last four games.
Atkins has three double-doubles this season (points & assists). He had 10 points and a career-high 12 assists in Saturday's win over Brown.
Jerian Grant — The junior guard has a team-best seven-game double-figure scoring streak. That is the longest such streak for any Irish player this season. He is averaging 12.9 points and 5.1 assists per game this season.
Pat Connaughton — The sophomore guard/forward routinely has chipped in seven points and 4.2 rebounds per game on top of his steady defensive play
Scott Martin — The reliable sixth-year senior and strong defender enters Saturday's game with 976 career points (9.2 ppg). Martin has tallied 704 points in his three-plus seasons at Notre Dame. He scored 272 points during his freshman season at Purdue. This is the first time he’s faced his former team.
Off The Bench
Freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid scored a career-high 17 points in Saturday's win over Brown. That was his second straight double-figure effort and his third of the season. He is 11-for-18 (.611) from 3-point range in the last four games. Senior center Garrick Sherman missed the game against Brown with a bruised knee and is expected to play against Purdue. He has scored in double-figures in three of the last four games in which he's played. He is leading the team with a .615 (32-52) shooting percentage this season (minimum 20 attempts).
The Boilermakers are coming off a 47-44 loss at Eastern Michigan on Dec. 8. Purdue registered 18 turnovers, including on by Dru Anthrop with 8.7 seconds to play on a possession that could have tied the game.
Terone Johnson is averaging 13 points and five rebounds per game to lead Purdue, which is struggling to find traction before the start of Big Ten play. As a team, the Boilermakers are shooting 42 percent from the field and just 26 percent from 3-point range. They have 15 more turnovers than their opponents this year and have been outscored 288-230 in the first half.
Notre Dame is third nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.73) and fourth in assists per game (18.7). The Irish had a season-low three turnovers in their win over Brown. Notre Dame ranks 17th nationally in fewest turnovers per game (10.8). The Irish should be able to pressure Purdue into making mistakes and capitalize on the other end.
Morgan’s prediction: Notre Dame 71, Purdue 55