Sports

Irish and Tar Heels collide in ACC affair

Chapel Hill, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouses collide Monday as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to face the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Dean E. Smith Center.

Notre Dame officially extended its win streak to double digits with an 83-76 double-overtime thriller against Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Irish have won 10 in a row, and look to improve on a 14-1 record to start the campaign. This will be the first true road game of the season for Notre Dame.

North Carolina is looking to build on a five-game win streak after the Tar Heels demolished Clemson on Saturday, 74-50, in an ACC battle. UNC is 5-1 at home this season, and will play three of its next four games at the Smith Center.

North Carolina leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 18-4, and owns a 3-0 mark in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have won five straight meetings, including two last season.

Georgia Tech blew a four-point halftime lead over Notre Dame on Saturday, and allowed the Irish to knot the game at 59-59 when regulation's final buzzer sounded. Notre Dame connected on 53.3 percent of its field goal attempts in the contest, including 57.1 percent shooting in the overtime periods to claim the two-OT thriller. Jerian Grant netted a team-high 24 points with six assists (and threw down one of the best dunks of the season), while Steve Vasturia contributed 17 points. Zach Auguste (13 points), Demetrius Jackson (11 points) and Pat Connaughton (10 points, eight rebounds) all had a hand in the win for the Irish.

Notre Dame's offense is still maintaining its high level of play, and enters the game against North Carolina netting 85.9 ppg on an impressive 55.3 percent shooting touch from the floor. Grant leads the team with a 17.9 ppg mark entering the clash, and is followed up by Auguste (14.7 ppg) and Jackson (14.2 ppg). Connaughton rounds out the team's double-digit scorers this season with 13.2 ppg, adding in a team-best 8.2 rpg mark for the Irish. But it hasn't just been a strong offensive effort that has helped UND to a 14-1 record. The team is holding opponents to a mere 61.9 ppg on 39.5 percent shooting.

Clemson was simply overmatched in the clash on Saturday with North Carolina. The Tar Heels held the home Tigers to just 17 first-half points on 17.9 percent shooting from the floor. The Tar Heels were able to coast through the second half on 40 percent shooting to maintain a healthy lead for the win. Justin Jackson led the way for North Carolina with 13 points in the ACC win, but Kennedy Meeks tallied a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds to really help the Heels. Marcus Paige chipped in with 11 points, and Brice Johnson notched 10 points with eight boards.

The matchup between Notre Dame and North Carolina will feature two of the best offenses in the ACC, as the Tar Heels come into this clash netting 80.8 ppg on 45.9 percent shooting from the floor. Paige leads a trio of double-digit scorers for the Tar Heels with 13.4 ppg this season, also adding in 52 assists (second to J.P. Tokoto's 59) and 16 steals (behind Tokoto's 18). Meeks (12.9 ppg) and Johnson (11.5 ppg) round out the group of scorers for UNC, though Jackson checks in at 9.9 ppg, right on the verge of breaking double figures. Meeks's 9.1 rpg average is the best on North Carolina through 14 games played.