Clash with the Cavaliers
Matthew DeFranks | Monday, January 27, 2014
Virginia will bring its recent hot streak into frigid South Bend for a matchup with Notre Dame on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
Even with the University’s closure effective until Tuesday at 6 p.m., the game is still on as scheduled, according to a Notre Dame spokesperson.
The Cavaliers (15-5, 6-1 ACC) have won six of their last seven games, including their last three. Virginia’s lone blemish in 2014 was a four-point loss at Duke on Jan. 13. The Irish (11-9, 2-5), meanwhile, have lost five of their last six games.
“Sometimes one good win can jumpstart you,” Irish coach Mike Brey said during a teleconference Monday. “Right now, we’re a group that’s searching for that.”
Since the loss to the Blue Devils, Virginia has won each game by an average of 15.7 points. For the first time in school history, all of Virginia’s ACC wins have come by double digits.
Virginia’s 6-1 start is the team’s best start in conference since the 1982-83 season when Ralph Sampson led the Cavaliers to a 7-1 start in ACC play.
Senior guard Joe Harris leads the Cavaliers with 11.6 points per game, while redshirt sophomore Malcolm Brogdon adds 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds.
“Different guys have done it at different times for them,” Brey said. “That’s the most difficult kind of team to prepare for that’s coming at you with a lot of different guys, and it can be anybody on any given night.”
The Cavaliers enter with the nation’s No. 3 scoring defense, surrendering just 56.2 points per game, trailing only Clemson and San Diego State, who both allow 56.1 points.
“They’re just really efficient offensively and rock-solid defensively,” Brey said. “They’re doing it at both ends and they’re a confident basketball team, especially after that stretch at home when they won three convincingly.”
Notre Dame is averaging 76.3 points per game, good for a tie for second in the ACC. But the Irish give up 70.9 points per game, which ranks second-to-last in the conference.
Notre Dame will again be without sophomore forward Austin Burgett, who will undergo a heart procedure Tuesday. Burgett missed the loss to Wake Forest and will be out at least seven to 10 days after the procedure.
Graduate student forward Tom Knight returned to the rotation against Wake Forest after missing four consecutive games with an ankle injury and an illness. He had eight points and three rebounds in 17 minutes Saturday.
Notre Dame will host Boston College on Saturday and travel to Syracuse next Monday as it tries to avoid falling too far in the ACC standings.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Brey said. “We came from a very tough league and we knew it was going to be a tough league. We have not been as lucky as I would have liked to be on the personnel front.”
The Cavaliers and Irish are scheduled to tip at 9 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.