South Bend, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Looking to build on a five-game win streak, the 25th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will tangle with the Florida State Seminoles in an Atlantic Coast Conference bout at Purcell Pavilion on Saturday.
Florida State came out of the gate a little sluggish this season, losing three straight games in the Naismith Hall of Fame Classic after a season-opening win over Manhattan. Since that time, the Seminoles have won three of their last four games, including a 96-73 destruction of UCF last Saturday.
Speaking of destruction, Notre Dame has clearly felt very comfortable in the confines of Purcell Pavilion, owning an 8-0 record at home this season. The only contest the Irish have dropped so far is a tight 75-74 loss to Providence back in November. Notre Dame is coming off a 93-67 win over Mount St. Mary's.
Surprisingly, these two storied programs have only met twice on the court in their all-time series. Florida State owns the 2-0 series lead, which includes a narrow 76-74 victory over the Irish in Tallahassee last season.
UCF had a nightmare of a time trying to contain Florida State last Saturday as the Seminoles exploded offensively. FSU connected on 62.1 percent of its shots in the game (41-of-66 from the floor) en route to the 23-point victory. Montay Brandon was stellar in leading the team, netting 23 points with six rebounds to top each category on his squad. Aaron Thomas added 22 points with four assists. Both players sunk 10 shots from the floor. Jarquez Smith chipped in 16 points, and Kiel Turpin added 10 in the victory.
Florida State's struggles on defense led to the team's early season destruction, but it appears things are starting to come together for the FSU defense. Entering this game, the Seminoles are allowing 67.8 ppg to opponents, while as a unit the team is scoring 70.2 ppg of its own on 48.3 percent shooting. Thomas paces the squad with a 14.8 ppg mark, followed closely by Brandon's 13.4 ppg and Xavier Rathan-Mayes's 12.3 ppg margin. Brandon tops the squad in rebounding, bringing down 6.4 boards per outing.
Mount St. Mary's didn't stand much of a chance against a very offense-driven Notre Dame squad on Tuesday night. The visitors connected on just 36.8 percent of their shots from the floor in the game, which wasn't nearly enough to keep pace with the Irish. Notre Dame netted 59 percent of their tries from the floor, including 8-of-14 from 3-point range. Zach Auguste, Jerian Grant and Steve Vasturia all netted 19 points to pace the team in the win, while Demetrius Jackson chipped in with 15 points. Auguste grabbed a team-high eight boards in the team's fifth straight victory.
That strong Irish offense sports four players netting scoring averages in the double digits entering this clash with Florida State, led by Grant's 19.0 ppg mark. Auguste checks in with 14.1 ppg, Pat Connaughton adds in 13.1 ppg and Jackson contributes 12.8 ppg for the Irish, who are netting 85.1 ppg as a whole. Notre Dame's shooting percentage sits at an incredible 56.2 percent from the field, which includes a 41 percent mark from 3-point distance.