Saturday , Jan , 27 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Irish put win streak on the line against dangerous Wildcats

South Bend, IN (Sports Network) – Undefeated at home this season, the
22nd-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish attempt to remain that way, as they
host the Villanova Wildcats in Big East action from the Joyce Center this
afternoon.

This is the second time in the last 10 days that these teams have faced
off, with Villanova capturing the first meeting, 102-87. Since then, Jay
Wright’s squad has strung together two more victories, with impressive
performances against Texas (76-69) and most recently, at Providence
(82-73). The win over the Friars moved Villanova to 14-5 overall and 3-3 in
league play.

The Irish are a half game better at 4-3 in Big East tilts, but Mike Brey’s
team is coming off a 71-68 loss at St. John’s, the team’s second loss in
the last three games. Still, the Irish return home where they have won all 14
games this season and are enjoying a 16-game homecourt winning streak
overall.

The Wildcats hold a 16-12 edge in the series with Notre Dame and have won the
last three meetings.

Villanova’s top player, Curt Sumpter has been nursing a bone bruise the last
two games, but that hasn’t stopped the team from winning. In fact, Jay Wright
has utilized several other players, who have stepped up when needed lately. In
the victory over Providence, freshman Scottie Reynolds erupted for a team-high
20 points to lead the way. Backcourt mate Mike Nardi was right behind with 19
points, while Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark tallied 13 and 11 points,
respectively. Sumpter did play sparingly, coming off the bench for 16 minutes
of work, finishing with seven points and four rebounds. On the season, Sumpter
leads the team in both scoring (18.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.6 rpg) and getting
him healthy is a priority the rest of the way. Nardi (14.3 ppg) and Reynolds
(12.2 ppg) are decent complements with their perimeter efforts. Nardi is
shooting .381 from long range this year and paces the team with 51 three-
pointers. The team as a whole is averaging a steady 77.5 ppg, on .456
shooting.

Notre Dame has plenty of scoring punch, as one of the top offensive teams in
the nation at 83.3 ppg (seventh nationally). The team is shooting .479 from
the floor and nearly 40 percent from behind the arc (.397). Russell Carter is
one of the Big East’s most exciting players, as he is draining 44.7 percent of
his three-point shots (59-of-132), en route to a team-high 18.3 ppg. Several
others are averaging double-digits in support, with Rob Kurz (14.2 ppg), Colin
Falls (12.8 ppg) and Luke Harangody (11.1 ppg) all getting in the act as well.
Carter erupted for a career-high 32 points, but it wasn’t enough in a three-
point setback to St. John’s. Falls poured in 16 points in support, but
Harangody was held to a season-low one point. The Irish shot .439 from the
floor, but really struggled in the second half, converting a mere 9-of-30
attempts (.300).

NOTREDAME VILLANOVA