Notre Dame had won 29 straight in South Bend before suffering a 67-53 setback to UConn last Saturday, and the team then went on the road to battle Rutgers, only to fall to the Scarlet Knights in a 65-58 final on Monday night. As a result, the Fighting Irish are 11-8 on the year and an even 3-3 in conference. It's the third time coach Mike Brey's squad has dropped back-to-back games this season. Notre Dame is 9-24 all-time when taking on the No. 1 team in the nation, but is 6-3 at home.
Syracuse has won the last three meetings with Notre Dame to take a 24-18 lead in the all-time series. The Irish are just 8-19 versus the Orange since joining the Big East back in 1995.
Notre Dame lost leading scorer Tim Abromaitis early this season, and as a result the Irish are averaging 68.9 ppg behind 43.2 percent shooting from the field and 32.2 percent from downtown. UND has performed well at the defensive end, permitting just 64.4 ppg, and both scoring averages have dropped since the start of Big East play, with the team putting up a mere 60.8 ppg while yielding 62.7 ppg. Eric Atkins (13.3 ppg, 3.6 apg), Jerian Grant (12.8 ppg, 4.7 apg) and Jack Cooley (10.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 25 blocks) are Notre Dame's active double-digit scorers, and each also brings more to the table as well. The Irish are being outrebounded (-1.3), but they turn the ball over only 9.9 times per outing. Atkins scored 15 points and Scott Martin added 11 more, but those efforts weren't enough as UND dropped a seven-point decision at Rutgers earlier this week. The Irish shot 44.2 percent from the field, draining seven three-pointers along the way, but the Scarlet Knights claimed a 12-4 edge in second-chance points, and their reserves outscored the visitors by a 24-11 margin.
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