7:00 PM ET, February 28, 2011
Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, South Bend, Indiana
Coming off one of its best defensive performances of the season, Notre Dame can clinch a double-bye for the Big East tournament in its next game.The eighth-ranked Irish will try to do so as they look to go undefeated at home for the first time in three years in a matchup with slumping No. 19 Villanova on Monday night.Notre Dame (23-5, 12-4) has won nine of its last 10, all of which were Big East games. With a victory Monday, it would secure a double-bye in the conference tournament while staying in the thick of the race for the league title."That double-bye is big for us," coach Mike Brey said. "It keeps us looking forward and not behind us. There is a lot going on back there and I've tried to talk to the team about chasing (first-place) Pittsburgh rather than looking back."After completing a stretch of three straight on the road, the Irish improved to 16-0 at home with a 60-48 win over Seton Hall on Saturday. They shot 32 percent and had seven turnovers in the first half, but were only down three at the break.Notre Dame took control with a 13-0 run early in the second half and never trailed again."We've been here before," said forward Carleton Scott, who played despite a sprained ankle and finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. "You have to just keep plugging away. You need to concentrate on defense and just take good shots."Tim Abromaitis scored 22 points and Ben Hansbrough added 21 for Notre Dame, which outrebounded Seton Hall 41-32. The Pirates shot 30.4 percent as the Irish gave up their fewest points to a conference opponent in seven years.Notre Dame will look to keep up the defensive intensity in their final home game of the season. The last time they went unbeaten at home was in 2007-08.While the Irish appear to be peaking at the right time, Villanova (21-8, 9-7) is looking to bounce back from its fourth loss in six games, 81-68 to then-No. 23 St. John's on Saturday.The Red Storm jumped out to an 18-4 lead in the opening minutes. The Wildcats pulled to within one with four minutes remaining, but St. John's closed the game on a 16-4 run.Corey Stokes scored 20 points and went 6 of 10 from 3-point range, but the rest of the team shot 34.1 percent overall. The Wildcats were coming off a 69-64 defeat to Syracuse last Monday in which they shot 32.3 percent."I feel like we're getting a little better, but not good enough for this league," said coach Jay Wright, whose team has fallen 10 spots in the Top 25 in the last three weeks. "I don't think we're getting worse."Wright's team, which has dropped three in a row to ranked opponents, will close the season at No. 4 Pittsburgh on Saturday.Villanova has stumbled down the Big East standings after a strong start, just as it did last season. The Wildcats opened 2009-10 by winning 20 of 21 but lost five of their final nine regular-season games.Leading scorer Corey Fisher has struggled badly over the past two games, totaling 10 points and shooting 4 of 26. Fisher is averaging 15.5 points, but has been held to 12 or fewer in four of the last five contests.The Wildcats have won two straight over Notre Dame, the most recent a 90-72 home victory Jan. 27, 2010. Villanova won 77-60 on March 2, 2009 in the teams' last meeting in South Bend.
|Avg Points Allowed||65.6||65.6|
|» Feb 28, 2011||@ND 93, VILL 72||Recap|