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Notre Dame-DePaul Preview

NOTRE DAME VS. DEPAUL
Where: Purcell Pavilion (9,149), at Notre Dame
Rankings & Records: No. 21 Notre Dame (19-5, 7-4 Big East), DePaul 10-13 (1-9).
Time/TV: Today at 7 p.m. EST on BEN/ESPN3.
Radio: UND.com, Sirius/XM channel 85.
Last Meeting: Notre Dame beat DePaul, 79-71, in overtime in Chicago on Feb. 2. This will be the second meeting in 12 days between the two programs and the 104th overall, with Notre Dame holding a 59-44 advantage in the all-time series.

A win over DePaul would give Irish head coach Mike Brey his ninth 20-win season

Notre Dame Notes
The Fighting Irish are coming off a five-overtime home victory (104-101) over Louisville on Feb. 9, which was the longest game in Notre Dame history. Notre Dame and Louisville are tief for fifth place in the league standings. A win tonight would give the Irish a program-record seven straight 20-win seasons and head coach Mike Brey his ninth 20-win campaign in 13 years at the helm.

Notre Dame is 49-3 in its last 52 home games (.942), with two losses coming against UConn and Georgetown this season. The team leads the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage (.384) and is second behind Pittsburgh in field goal percentage (.482).

Probable starters:

Jack Cooley The senior forward is third nationally in double-doubles (16), ranks fifth in the country and first in the Big East Conference in rebounds per game (11.3) to go along with his team-high 14.6 points per outing.

Eric Atkins The junior point guard played 60 minutes against Louisville, which tied a Notre Dame single-game record, and he’s averaging 11.8 points and six assists per contest.

Jerian Grant Junior guard Jerian Grant willed the Irish to the first overtime against the Cardinals, scoring 12 points in a total of 29 seconds in the last minute of regulation. He’s averaging 12 points and 5.6 assists per game.

Pat Connaughton The sophomore guard is putting up 9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Tom KnightIn five starts this year, the senior forward is averaging 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Off The Bench
Senior center Garrick Sherman played his way back into the rotation after scoring 17 points combined in the five overtimes to carry the Irish vs. Louisville. Freshmen forwards Cameron Biedscheid (7.8 points) and Zach Auguste (3.6 points) add length and athleticism as they continue to gain valuable experience. Biedscheid is playing 18.8 minutes per game and his shooting percentage, after a major mid-season slump, has risen back up to 40.1 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from behind the arc.

DePaul Overview
The Blue Demons have lost eight straight, including back-to-back overtime defeats against St. John’s (Jan. 30) and Notre Dame (Feb. 2), and 39 consecutive games against ranked opponents. Villanova went to Chicago and handed DePaul a 94-71 loss and the Blue Demons fell, 89-78, to conference power Marquette on Feb. 9.

The Blue Demons are 15-3 (6-0 in 2012-13) over the last three seasons when scoring 80 or more points. DePaul is third in steals (8.43 spg), third in scoring (73.3 ppg) and fifth in blocked shots (4.52 bpg) in the league. Juniors Brandon Young (guard) and Cleveland Melvin (forward) are both averaging over 16 points per game for DePaul.

Outlook
Jack Cooley scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Notre Dame over DePaul in the last meeting earlier this month, and after fouling out well before the end of regulation against Louisville with only 11 points, Cooley’s itching to have a dominant game. DePaul is the worst defensive team in the conference, allowing 73.5 points per game. Opponents have connected on 33.3 percent of their 3-point attempts, which is the second-worst 3-point defense in the league.

The Irish hope the win over Louisville will serve as a springboard to a strong finish with seven Big East games remaining. Jerian Grant appears anxious to live up to expectations and take over offensively after taking a major shot of confidence Saturday. And with the bench fully engaged, look for more offensive consistency.

Morgan’s prediction: Notre Dame 79, DePaul 66.

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