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Notre Dame-IPFW Preview

NOTRE DAME VS. IPFW
Where: Purcell Pavilion (9,149) in South Bend.
Records & Rankings: No. 22 Notre Dame (9-1); IPFW (5-6).
Time/TV: 7 p.m. EST on ESPNU.
Last Meeting: IPFW and Notre Dame have met on three previous occasions, with the Fighting Irish holding a 3-0 advantage in the series. Notre Dame last beat the 92-49 on November 10, 2006 in South Bend.

Eric Atkins and the Irish look to improve to 10-1 tonight against IPFW

Notre Dame Notes
Notre Dame enters this evening’s contest on a seven-game winning streak. The Irish topped Purdue 81-68 in a Crossroads Classic game in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Senior forward Jack Cooley leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds.

Notre Dame ranks 14th nationally in shooting percentage with a .490 (277-565) mark. The Fighting Irish have had a different leading scorer in each of the last four games. Five different players have posted a team-high point total in the last six contests. 
• Notre Dame has had at least five double-figure scorers in four games this season.

Probable starters:

Jack Cooley The diesel-powered senior forward came one rebound short of collecting his eighth double-double of the year against Purdue. He has 17 blocked shots to go with his team-leading offensive production.

Eric Atkins The junior points guard is scoring 11.5 points and is tied for ninth nationally in assists per game (seven).

Jerian Grant The junior guard is averaging 12.5 points per game and has registered 13 steals.

Pat Connaughton The sophoore guard is averaging 7.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per contest.

Scott Martin The sixth-year senior is second on the team averaging 7.6 rebounds per game and is chipping in 8.4 points per outing.

Off The Bench
Senior center Garrick Sherman has scored in double-figures in four of the last five games in which he has played, and he registered 11 points and was 5-for-5 from the field in Saturday's win over Purdue. He is leading the team with a .649 (37-57) shooting percentage this season. Freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid has come off the bench to score in double-figures three times this season. Biedscheid is 12-20 (.600) from three-point range in the last five games.

IPFW Overview
The Mastodons are 0-37 all time against teams from the ACC, Big East, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences. IPFW is 0-8 all time against teams ranked among the top 25, with the last such meeting coming at the opening of the 2011-12 season with an 86-63 loss at Xavier. Of the eight games, seven have been on the road, with the lone home game coming on November 19, 2008, when the squad hosted Michigan State, the highest ranked team the program has played since becoming an NCAA Division I member in 2001-02.

Averaging 65.3 points per game, the Mastodons are shooting 39.9 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from 3-point range (5.7 triples per game). They have made 59 more trips to the foul line compared to their opponents, but are shooting just 62.7 percent from the stripe. IPFW has outrebounded opponents 441-362 this year but is averaging 16.8 turnovers per outing.

Senior forward Mario Hines (6-8), junior forward Luis Jacobo (6-5) and junior guard Kevin Harden (6-2) have each started all 11 games this year. Redshirt senior guard Frank Gaines (6-3) has started all 10 games he’s played, but the fifth spot in the lineup has been a revolving door between sophomore guard Isaiah McCray (six starts) and junior guard Pierre Bland (five). A total of 10 Mastodons players are averaging at least 18 minutes per game.

Gaines is the only player averaging double-figures with 20 points per game and Hines is the team’s best rebounder with 6.2 per game.

Outlook
Except for the first half against Purdue, when Notre Dame committed eight turnovers, the Irish take care of the ball, clean up on the boards and don’t foul often. If Notre Dame can slow down Gaines, the Mastodons won’t have much of a chance inside a building Notre Dame has won its last 13 games and 42 of its last 43 contests.

Morgan’s prediction: Notre Dame 82, IPFW 59

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