ND aims to end skid against Wake
Matthew DeFranks | Thursday, January 23, 2014
For the first time in program history, Notre Dame will head to Wake Forest when it plays the Demon Deacons on Saturday.
The Irish (11-8, 2-4 ACC) are coming off a last-minute 76-74 loss to Florida State on Tuesday night. Seminoles senior guard Ian Miller hit the game-winning runner in the lane with four seconds left in the game and Irish senior guard Eric Atkins’ desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the front rim.
The loss was Notre Dame’s fourth in its last five games, all by eight points or fewer.
The Seminoles shot 58.0 percent for the game, including 8-for-16 on 3-pointers. Irish coach Mike Brey said Notre Dame’s 3-point defense needs to improve.
“We can do a better job of being aware of shooters, getting out to them,” he said. “There are some nights where we go through stretches where we’re really good at it. There’s been stretches where we’re not very good at it.”
Wake Forest (13-6, 3-3) comes into the game shooting 31.8 percent from 3-point land while the Irish are allowing opponents to shoot 37.2 percent behind the arc, the worst in the conference.
Brey said the opponents’ strong 3-point shooting is a combination of Notre Dame’s poor defense and other teams simply making shots.
Despite the struggles in conference play, Brey said the team’s mood is still fine.
“I think our morale is great,” he said. “We’ve got some veteran guys that do a great job with leadership. Our morale is great and it showed with how we played and competed. We’re disappointed we’d come up short but this group comes back in and goes to work every day.”
Wake Forest is coming off an 83-77 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night. Notre Dame beat Virginia Tech 70-63 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.
In the win over the Hokies, Demon Deacons senior forward Travis McKie scored 24 points while sophomore guard Codi Miller-McIntyre added 20 points and 10 assists.
Miller-McIntyre is Wake Forest’s leading scorer (15.5 points per game) while sophomore forward Devin Thomas paces the Demon Deacons inside with 8.6 rebounds per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field with an 11.0-point-per-game average.
The Irish could be without sophomore forward Austin Burgett for Saturday’s game, Brey said. Burgett was recovering from atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) after suffering from it during Tuesday’s game against Florida State.
“We’ll do some tests, saw a cardiologist, but we’re feeling he can be back hopefully on the practice floor today,” Brey said. “The sad thing for us was he was playing well. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable as a player.”
Brey also said graduate student forward Tom Knight could make his return to the Irish rotation this weekend. Knight has been out since Jan. 7 after injuring his ankle and coming down with a sickness.
The potentially short-handed Irish will tip-off against Wake Forest on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Contact Matthew DeFranks at email@example.com