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Men’s Basketball

Notre Dame takes on Clemson for first time

| Monday, February 10, 2014

On Saturday, the Irish committed 17 turnovers against a stout North Carolina defense.

Two days later, Notre Dame (12-12, 3-8) runs into another strong defensive squad when it hosts Clemson on Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion.

Notre Dame’s 17 turnovers were tied for the second-most this season, as the Tar Heels and their No. 16 defense in the nation rolled to a 73-62 victory, scoring 23 points off turnovers.

Senior guard and captain Eric Atkins drives to the basket against North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo  in Notre Dame’s 73-62 loss to the Tar Heels on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion.Jodi Lo

Senior guard and captain Eric Atkins drives to the basket against North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo in Notre Dame’s 73-62 loss to the Tar Heels on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion.

“[We] really had some problems handling the basketball [against North Carolina],” Irish head coach Mike Brey said during a teleconference Monday. “Our turnovers have hurt us here really through the ACC season. So we’ve really tried to address that … in practice [Sunday and Monday].”

Entering Monday, the Tigers (15-7, 6-4 ACC) were first in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 55.1 points per game. Fellow ACC foe Virginia, who limited Notre Dame to a season-low 53 points and forced a season-high 20 turnovers Jan. 28, is second in the nation, surrendering an average of 55.6 points per game.

“I think they’re very similar,” Brey said of Clemson and Virginia. “They’re jamming that lane up. They’re really crowding it. It’s tough to get anything in the lane and in the paint. And you really have to work to get shots against them. You’re going to have to make shots over the top of them because they’re going to give that up a little bit.”

The Tigers themselves struggled offensively against No. 1 Syracuse and its 2-3 zone Sunday night at the Carrier Dome. Clemson hung around, but the Orange remained undefeated, winning 57-44. The Tigers were limited to 34.1 percent (14-for-41) shooting from the field en route to their third-lowest scoring output this season. Clemson’s 14 made field goals were the fewest in Brad Brownell’s four years as head coach.

Junior forward K.J. McDaniels, who leads Clemson in scoring (16.4 points per game) and rebounding (7.2 boards per game), was the only Tiger in double figures Sunday, as he tallied 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds.

Freshman guard Steve Vasturia looks for an opening against North Carolina on Saturday at Purcell         Pavilion. Vasturia and Notre Dame take on Clemson tonight at home.Emmet Farnan

Freshman guard Steve Vasturia looks for an opening against North Carolina on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion.

Brownell admitted his team was tired after arriving home at 1:30 a.m. Monday following the trip back from Syracuse. Tuesday’s tilt will be Clemson’s fifth road game in its last six games.

“I can barely remember who it started with,” Brownell said Monday. “We’ve had a long three weeks here, obviously some very difficult games on the road in some challenging venues. I think it’s showed our team when we play well and when we defend, we can play. And we can play with some very good teams in the country.”

In its previous two games, Clemson slugged its way to wins over Florida State, 53-49, and Georgia Tech, 45-41. Clemson is 8-0 this season — and 27-2 overall during Brownell’s tenure — when holding opponents to 50 points or fewer.

The Irish, meanwhile, dropped to .500 for the first time since 2006 and have five home losses for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The last time Notre Dame lost at least six games at home was the 2003-04 campaign.

Notre Dame tips off in its first-ever matchup against Clemson at Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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About Mike Monaco

Mike Monaco is a junior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike