Notre Dame's run of facing top 10 Big East opponents ends against a team it has enjoyed success against at home.
The 14th-ranked Fighting Irish look for their fifth home win in six tries over No. 9 Connecticut on Tuesday night.Last week's AP Top 25 had five Big East teams in the top 10, and Notre Dame (12-2, 1-1) had the unenviable task of opening conference play against three of them. The Fighting Irish beat then-No. 9 Georgetown 69-55 last Wednesday and fell 70-58 at then-No. 5 Syracuse on Saturday.One positive for the Irish is that two games during this stretch are at home. Notre Dame has overcome 37.5 percent shooting in the last five home meetings with Connecticut (11-1, 1-1) to go 4-1.That was the case last season, as neither team shot well in the Irish's 58-50 victory March 3. Notre Dame finished at 36.5 percent and Connecticut at 35.4 for its second-worst mark of the season.UConn star Kemba Walker averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 assists last season as these teams split two meetings. Walker continues to lead the nation with a 26.7 scoring average, and turned in a clutch performance in his last game to help the Huskies earn their first Big East win.The junior guard finished with 24 points and eight assists in Friday's 66-61 overtime win over South Florida. UConn trailed 46-37 with 11 minutes left before Walker scored 11 points over the remainder of regulation."I was reading the other day that if you're going to be classified as a magnificent player, you've got to take your team to magnificent places," coach Jim Calhoun said. "Well, down nine and looking like maybe you're out of it, Kemba certainly was the sparkplug we needed."With his team struggling inside, Calhoun credited a heavy dose of zone defense for the comeback."I can't think of the last time that we went 10 straight minutes in a zone. I really can't," Calhoun said. "It could be a decade. I can't even remember, and I don't forget many basketball games. That saved us."The Huskies haven't defended 3-pointers well, allowing opponents to shoot 35.1 percent for the third-worst mark in the conference. That could be a problem against the Irish, one of the three top 3-point shooting teams in the Big East at 37.5 percent.Notre Dame had trouble with Syracuse's 2/3 zone with 15 turnovers in Saturday's loss. Tim Abromaitis scored 15 points and Tyrone Nash 12."I give them credit because I think, overall, we were making some pretty good decisions," coach Mike Brey said. "They cheated into some passing lanes, which they do great with their length. It's almost anytime you turn it over is a break for them. I don't think you can physically get back -- at least we couldn't -- so any turnover was just so devastating for us in the second half because it was converted."Abromaitis, averaging a team-high 16.3 points, is a Connecticut native whose father played for UConn. The senior forward is hoping to fare better against the Huskies than he did last season when he averaged 9.0 points on 33.3 percent shooting.Another starting senior forward for the Irish -- Carleton Scott -- might not be able to play due to a hamstring injury. Scott is averaging 11.9 points and 6.4 rebounds.