NOTRE DAME VS. CINCINNATI
Where: Purcell Pavillion (9,149), at Notre Dame
Rankings/Records: No. 25 Notre Dame (21-6, 9-5 Big East), Cincinnati (19-8, 7-7).
Time/TV: Sunday at 2 p.m. EST on CBS.
Radio: Sirius channel 123, XM channel 190 and streaming live at UND.com.
Last meeting: Notre Dame won at Cincinnati, 66-60, on Jan. 7. The Irish are 9-4 all-time against the Bearcats.
The Irish return home after a two-game road trip and are still in the hunt for a double bye in the league tournament next month.
Notre Dame Notes
The Fighting Irish are hunting their 10th league win of the season, and if successful, they’ll set a school record with a fourth straight 10-win season in Big East Conference play. Louisville and Syracuse are the only other league schools to win 10 or more games in each of the last three seasons. It would also be the eighth time in Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey’s 13-year career in South Bend that his team reached double-digit wins in conference play.
The Irish are coming off a two-game road trip and a five-day hiatus. They overcome a 16-point deficit at Pittsburgh Monday for a 51-42 victory. Notre Dame is shooting 47.7 percent from the floor this season, which ranks 16th nationally and leads the league. The Fighting Irish are shooting 44.5 percent from the field against Big East competition, which is third best in the conference. The Irish are 11-0 this season when they shoot 50 percent or better from the floor.
Jack Cooley — The senior forward has posted a double-double in six of the last seven games.Cooley is tied for second nationally with 18 double-doubles this season (nine in BIG EAST play). He has 31 career double-doubles, which all have occurred in the last two seasons. He is averaging 14.5 points per game.
Eric Atkins — The junior point guard is putting up 11.6 points and six assists per game this year. He is third in the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage in conference play (.447) and 13th nationally and second in the Big East (all games) in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.78).
Jerian Grant — The junior guard has scored in double-figures in 12 of 14 league games this season. He is averaging 13.8 points per game in conference play and has led the Irish in scoring in four of the last five games. His 5.9 assist-per-game average in the Big East ranks fourth in the conference.
Pat Connaughton —The sophomore guard is averaging 8.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game this season.
Tom Knight — In eight starts, the senior forward has produced 6.5 points and four rebounds per contest.
Off The Bench
Freshman forwards Cam Biedscheid and Zach Auguste are contributing 7.2 and 3.7 points, respectively, in a combined 28 minutes per game. Senior center Garrick Sherman is averaging 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per outing.
Cincinnati is coming off a 73-66 overtime loss at Connecticut Thursday.
Over the last three games, senior guard JaQuon Parker is averaging 16.0 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 53.1 percent from the field (17 of 32) and 57.1 percent from three-point range (4 of 7). He was named to the Big East weekly honor roll on Monday. Junior guard Sean Kilpatrick has led UC in scoring in eight of the last nine contests while being the game’s high scorer six times. He is averaging 19.4 points during the stretch while shooting 39.0 percent from the field (55 of 141). He also has made a team-high 30 three-pointers while averaging 5.4 rebounds.
Cincinnati is 0-4 all-time at Notre Dame. The Irish needed five players to reach double figures in scoring to get by the Bearcats last time. Notre Dame was 9-for-16 (.563) from three-point range in the contest as well.
Connecticut was the Bearcats’ first league opponent to score over its season average. The Huskies were averaging 70.6, and UC was holding league foes 12.06 points below their average entering that game. For Notre Dame to get by the Bearcats, they’ll have to limit transition buckets and points off of turnovers, areas where Cincinnati thrives. The Irish will look to dictate the pace of this game, which has been the blueprint for success against the up-tempo Bearcats in the past.
Morgan’s prediction: Notre Dame 63, Cincinnati 58