The 21st-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish begin their Big East slate in the friendly confides of the Purcell Pavilion on Saturday when they host the Seton Hall Pirates.
Both sides enter this matchup on sizeable winning streaks. Kevin Willard's Pirates notched their eighth victory in a row on Wednesday by defeating DePaul, 73-72, in their league opener in Rosemont. The decision bumped Seton Hall up to a 3-1 record in away games. The Pirates are getting it done on both ends of the floor as they are pouring in 73 points per game, while limiting opponents to only 61.7.
Mike Brey and his Fighting Irish reeled off their 10th consecutive win on Dec. 21 by completing an 89-67 rout of Niagara. Notre Dame has been dominant this season as 11 of its 12 wins have been by double-digit margins. The homecourt advantage is strong with the Irish as they have won their last 16 games at Purcell Pavilion to improve to 45-1 in their previous 46 games in their own building. Notre Dame is fourth in the Big East in scoring offense with a 76.4 ppg average, and it also ranks sixth in scoring defense (59.9 ppg).
These schools have tangled 26 times before on the hardwood and Notre Dame has walked away as the victor on 18 occasions. The Fighting Irish are 10-1 versus the Pirates inside Purcell Pavilion.
Aaron Cosby's career-high 24 points led Seton Hall to a 73-72 road victory over DePaul. The sophomore guard had produced only 22 total points in his previous three games before his breakout performance that rose his scoring average to 12.1 ppg. Cosby was not the only Pirate to have a solid showing versus the Blue Demons. A pair of forwards registered double-doubles with Brandon Mobley tallying 16 points and 10 rebounds while Eugene Teague finished with 11 points and 15 boards. Fuquan Edwin, who is fifth in the Big East in scoring at 17.7 ppg, got into the mix by tallying 11 points and five assists. Edwin is not only a big time scoring threat, he is also a pest on the defensive end of the floor, with 2.6 steals per contest.
Senior forward Jack Cooley continued his strong final campaign by registering a monster double-double of 24 and 15 rebounds to propel Notre Dame past Niagara in the team's last outing. Cooley, who averages a team- best 15.1 ppg and a Big East leading 11.3 rpg, has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and recorded a double-double in two straight. Jerian Grant (12.2 ppg) and Eric Atkins (10.8 ppg) are second and third, respectively, on the team's scoring leaderboard, but they are contributing in a big way with their passing skills. Notre Dame is leading Division I teams with 19.5 assists per outing as Atkins (7.2 apg) is third in the conference in helpers and Grant (5.3 apg) sits just three spots behind him.