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Men’s Basketball: Irish look to continue streak against Sam Houston State

Eric Prister | Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Irish will continue CBE Classic Play and their quest to keep their 21-game home win streak alive without fifth-year forward Tim Abromaitis when they take on Sam Houston State tonight at the Purcell Pavilion.

Sophomore guard Eric Atkins has led the way for the Irish (2-0) so far this season, scoring a career-high 27 points against Mississippi Valley State on Saturday before recording a team-high 13 in Notre Dame’s win over Detroit on Monday.

Other young players have also emerged so far this season for the Irish. Freshman guard Pat Connaughton scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win over Detroit.

Irish coach Mike Brey said he was not surprised by Connaughton’s breakout performance.

“You saw what [Connaughton] does on the backboard,” Brey said. “He’s fearless. He’s been practicing that way. He’s been on our mind and in our rotation. He has some special qualities.”

Brey also said he was pleased with the performance of sophomore guard Jerian Grant, who has played just two regular season games in an Irish uniform after sitting out his entire freshman year. Grant has scored in double figures in both games this season for Notre Dame.

Junior guard Joey Brooks has also emerged in his first season as a starter. After averaging just 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds per game last season, he has scored 22 points and recorded 13 rebounds in two games for Notre Dame.

“There will be games like [against Detroit] and there will be games where I won’t play so well,” Brooks said. “But the key is to try to be consistent with your effort. So every time I’m on the court, I do whatever I can to help my team win.”

Senior guard Scott Martin, Notre Dame’s second leading scorer returning from last season, struggled against Detroit (1-1), scoring just three points in 39 minutes of play. Brey said Martin is an invaluable part of the Irish roster, bringing a number of intangibles to the table.

“Scott Martin wasn’t scoring, but he was anchoring us defensively,” he said. “He’s just such a great position defender, so it’s hard to take him out of the game.”

Notre Dame and Sam Houston State (1-0) have met only once before, in 1997, when the Irish took home a decisive 88-69 win over the Bearkats. Connaughton said that the most important things for the Irish to remember moving forward are the positives.

“We learned that we have a lot of guys that can contribute and that we have a good team,” he said.

The Irish will tip off against the Bearkats at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Purcell Pavilion.

Contact Eric Prister at eprister@nd.edu