NOTRE DAME VS. EVANSVILLE
Where: Purcell Pavilion (9,149), at Notre Dame
Time/TV: 2 p.m. EST on ESPN3
Last Meeting: This is the 10h meeting all-time between Notre Dame and intrastate foe Evansville. The Irish lead the series 5-4. Notre Dame beat the Purple Aces (76-70) in their last clash in 1992.
Line: Notre Dame by 14.
No. 22 Notre Dame kicks off the 2012-13 season today against Evansville
Notre Dame Notes
The Fighting Irish begin the 13th season under head coach Mike Brey and return all five starters from the 2011-12 campaign. Notre Dame is 12-0 in season openers under Brey. The Irish return 88.7 percent of their scoring from last season. Today’s game is part of the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic.
Junior point guard Eric Atkins scored 12.1 points and dished out 4.1 assists per game last year, sixth-year senior guard Scott Martin averaged 9.5 points and 5.7 rebounds, junior guard Jerian Grant scored 12.3 points and had 5.0 assists, sophoomore guard/forward Pat Connaughton added 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds and senior forward Jack Cooley registered 12.5 points and 8.9 rebounds.
The Irish beat Quincy (111-52) and Cardinal Stritch
(70-56) in their two exhibition games. Cooley paced ND with 18 points and 8.5 boards per game in those two contests. Atkins averaged 16 points and 8.5 assists. Freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid scored 11.5 points per game in exhibition play and senior center Garrick Sherman also finished with double-figures (10.0 points per game). On their 65 field goals in those two games, the Irish finished with 45 assists, and they shot 45.2 percent from 3-point range.
Notre Dame has finished with at least 20 victories in each of the last six seasons and nine times overall in Brey’s tenure. The Irish last rattled off six 20-win seasons under former head coach Digger Phelps from 1983-89.
The Purple Aces finished 16-16 last season and third in the Missouri Valley Converence with a 9-9 mark. Evansville was invited to play in the College Basketball Invitational, losing in the first round to Princeton.
Head coach Marty Simmons is back for his sixth year, and he’ll oversee a squad that returns three starters. Evansville won both its exhibition games, with senior Colt Ryan putting up 50 total points. Fellow senior Troy Taylor (point guard) led the team last year with 4.9 rebounds per game at only 6-foot. He averaged 8.5 boards in exhibition play.
Evansville has a veteran perimeter helped push the Purple Aces to marquee wins over Butler and Creighton last season, so it’s a good first test for the Irish. Evansville uses constant motion to get good looks. Ryan, a 6-5, guard/forward, is capable of erupting each and every night after averaging 20.5 points per game last year. He’s 643 points shy of the program’s all-time career scoring record (2,250).
Morgan’s prediction: Notre Dame 72, Evansville 60.