South Bend, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The newly-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish entertain the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers in non-conference action on Tuesday night.
The Mount comes in sporting a 2-4 overall record, and this is the team's sixth road game already. Mount St. Mary's put the brakes on a two-game slide the last time out, as it claimed a 74-65 win at Loyola on Saturday. The team's only other triumph came in a 73-69 verdict at Bucknell on Nov. 22.
Notre Dame is hoping to extend its current win streak to five in a row tonight, and the team has claimed victory in eight of its first nine games overall. The Irish stumbled against Providence (75-74) on Nov. 23, but have a signature win over Michigan State (79-78 OT) on their resume'.
This bout marks only the second meeting between these two schools in men's basketball, with Notre Dame winning the first at home back on Nov. 29, 2003, 78-64.
Mount St. Mary's shot the ball extremely well in its recent win over Loyola, hitting 51.9 percent of its field goal attempts, which included a 7-of-17 showing from 3-point range. Byron Ashe came off the bench to drain 4-of-5 long-range shots to tally a game-high 16 points, while Kristijan Krajina added 12 points and eight rebounds. Gregory Graves tacked on 10 points and came up a rebound shy of logging a double-double for the victors.
The last game aside, the Mount has struggled to score points this season, putting up a meager 57.8 ppg in hitting only 40.2 percent of their total shots, which includes a 28.2 percent performance from beyond the arc. There is not a single player averaging double digits at the moment, but there are six guys who net between 5.5 and 9.2 ppg (Krajina). Defensively, the club is yielding 71 ppg.
Notre Dame saw four players score in double figures in a 75-57 home win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday, led by Pat Connaughton's 19-point performance. Connaughton hit three 3-pointers, but the Fighting Irish went just 4-of-17 from distance as a team. Jerian Grant tallied 15 points, Zach Auguste logged a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Steve Vasturia chipped in 10 points for UND, which made good on 50 percent of its field goal attempts, while holding FDU to 37.7 percent efficiency. The Irish also claimed a 41-30 rebounding advantage, while outscoring their overmatched opponent in the paint, 40-24.
Grant has done it all for the Irish here in the early going, averaging 19 points and 6.4 assists per game, helping the team put up 84.2 ppg behind a typical shooting effort of .558 overall and .399 from beyond the arc. Connaughton is next in line with 14.1 ppg, and he spearheads UND's effort on the glass with 7.7 rpg. Auguste (13.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Demetrius Jackson (12.6 ppg, 3.0 apg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers, and the team's defensive effort permits just 59.2 ppg while coming up with 13.3 turnovers per outing.