Irish and Wildcats meet in Big East clash
Villanova, PA (Sports Network) – The 20th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish
are a perfect 13-0 at home, but must go on the road this evening, as they
take on the Villanova Wildcats in Big East action from the Pavilion.
Mike Brey’s squad is a stellar 15-2 on the season and has won 14 of its last
15 games. The lone loss during that span came in the team’s only true road
contest, dropping a 66-48 decision at Georgetown on January 6th. Since
then, the Irish have won two in a row, including an 88-76 victory over Seton
Hall on Sunday. The victory moved ND to 3-1 in Big East action.
The Wildcats are the opposite, 1-3 in league play, and have lost three of
their last four games, including a 75-64 setback at Syracuse on
Saturday. These two teams will meet again in 10 days in South Bend.
Villanova holds a 15-12 edge in the all-time series. In their only
meeting with Notre Dame last season, the Wildcats edged out the Irish, holding
on for a 72-70 decision.
Notre Dame shot .534 from the floor and hit 10 three-pointers in posting a 12-
point win over the Pirates on Sunday. Russell Carter hit all four of his
attempts behind the arc and led four Irish players in double figures with 24
points. Carter recorded his first double-double of the season and second in
his career by adding 10 rebounds. Rob Kurz just missed his own double-double
with 15 points and nine caroms and was followed in the scoring column by Luke
Harangody and Zach Hillesland, who added 12 points apiece. Notre Dame is a
real surprise this season and a full arsenal at the offensive end is the
reason for the success. The team is averaging a hardy 84.1 ppg this year,
shooting .492 from the floor and .401 from behind the arc. Carter has been
outstanding this season and is one of the Big East’s top snipers, shooting
.454 from three-point range (49-of-128) and pacing the team with 18.0 ppg.
Kurz is a perfect complement down low, adding 14.4 ppg, while grabbing 8.8
rpg. Colin Falls and Harangody provide adequate scoring depth with 12.2 and
12.0 ppg, respectively.
Villanova has done a nice job at the offensive end of the court as well this
year. The team is shooting .449 from the floor, resulting in a healthy 75.8
ppg. The scoring pool is not as deep as Notre Dame’s, but Curtis Sumpter is a
special player that can take over a game inside. The 6-7 senior has returned
from a knee injury last year and leads the Wildcats in both scoring and
rebounding, averaging 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per outing. Mike Nardi
provides perimeter balance with nearly 14 points per game (13.8) and is
responsible for a team-high 39 three-pointers to date. Scottie Reynolds
furthers the cause from the perimeter, averaging 9.9 ppg. Sumpter was
unstoppable in the low post against Syracuse, finishing with a double-double
of 24 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough in an 11-point loss at
Syracuse. Nardi and Reynolds finished with 17 and 14 points, respectively, but
the team shot just .361 from the floor and just .286 from behind the arc (8-