DePaul (11-12) at Notre Dame (16-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 11th, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Joyce Center (9,149) -- South Bend, Indiana. Television: Big East Network, Local. Home Record: DePaul 6-7, Notre Dame 12-1. Away Record: DePaul 3-4, Notre Dame 4-3. Neutral Record: DePaul 2-1, Notre Dame 0-4. Conference Record: DePaul 2-9, Notre Dame 8-3. Series Record: Notre Dame leads, 57-44.
GAME NOTES: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish try to continue their quick assent in the Big East standings when they welcome the DePaul Blue Demons to the Joyce Center in South Bend this afternoon.
DePaul got off to a strong start this season, winning nine of its first 12 games. Things went south quickly for the Blue Demons once they hit Big East play however, losing nine of their 11 conference games and they are currently sitting in 15th place in the standings. They are currently riding a three-game losing streak, with their latest loss coming on Monday against nationally- ranked Marquette, 89-76.
Notre Dame appeared to be on its way to a mediocre season after finding itself at 11-8 overall and 3-3 in the Big East after a January 16 loss to Rutgers. The Irish have made a quick turnaround however, winning five straight against top conference competition, including then No. 1 Syracuse and a ranked Marquette squad as well. Their latest win came over West Virginia on Wednesday, 55-51, and they are currently third in the Big East standings.
Notre Dame has won six straight in the series with DePaul, and owns a 57-44 advantage all-time as a result.
While DePaul's offense has been explosive at times, ranking third in the Big East in scoring at 74.6 ppg, it has been let down by its atrocious defense, which ranks dead-last in the conference in both points allowed (75.7 ppg) and field goal percentage against (.482). That unfortunate theme continued in Monday's game, as the Blue Demons connected on 47.6 percent of their field goal attempts but allowed Marquette to shoot 52.5 percent from the floor and gave up 80 points or more for the 10th time this season. Cleveland Melvin continued his scoring onslaught in the setback, shooting 10-of-18 from the floor for 22 points. Melvin is one of the league's most dynamic players, ranking third in scoring (18.2 ppg) while leading the Blue Demons in rebounding (6.8 rpg). Brandon Young is a competent scorer in his own right, netting 15 ppg and he also hands out 4.9 apg, seventh-best in the conference. Considering its struggles, DePaul takes surprisingly good care of the basketball, sporting a turnover margin of +3.04.
Notre Dame sits at the opposite end of the Big East spectrum, sporting a sub par offense (67.2 ppg) and a very good defense (61.7 ppg). The team's defensive stance has been particularly solid of late, giving up an average of just 51.6 ppg on its current five-game win streak. They stymied the West Virginia offense in Wednesday's win to the tune of 41.4 percent shooting from the floor and 2-of-16 from three-point range. The Notre Dame offense did just enough to win, led by Jack Cooley's 21-point, 12-rebound performance -- his seventh double-double of the season. Eric Atkins (12.9 ppg) and Jerian Grant (12.7 ppg) pace the Irish offense, though both struggle with their shot, hitting a mere 40.4 percent from the floor each. Cooley adds 11 ppg and is fifth in the conference in rebounding at 8.6 rpg. Notre Dame doesn't allow its foes to have much success from beyond the arc (.304).
After fighting through perhaps its most difficult string of games with great success, Notre Dame will welcome the struggling Blue Demons with open arms to South Bend where the Irish have lost just once this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 68, DePaul 58
02/11 10:43:35 ET