Saturday , Feb , 24 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Irish hope to secure perfect home mark with win over Marquette

South Bend, IN (Sports Network) – The 16th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles have
traveled to South Bend for a Big East Conference showdown with the Notre
Dame Fighting Irish.

Marquette carried a three-game slide into Monday’s clash with Villanova, but
the team managed an 80-67 victory over the visiting Wildcats. The Golden
Eagles, at 22-7 overall and 9-5 in the league, appear to be a lock for the NCAA
Tournament, although a win today would do wonders for seeding purposes.

The same can be said for Notre Dame, which has the same Big East record
as Marquette. The Irish are riding a three-game win streak that includes a
78-54 decision over DePaul this past Tuesday. They are now a perfect 17-0 at
home, setting a program record for the most home victories in one season.

Notre Dame has won its only two series meetings with Marquette.

Four of the five Marquette starters reached double figures in scoring in the
victory over Villanova on Monday. Lazar Hayward and Dominic James tallied 18
points apiece, and Wesley Matthews pitched in 16 points on the strength of a
12-of-12 effort from the foul line. Rounding out the foursome was Jerel McNeal
with 15 points. Perhaps the most impressive stat from the contest was that
Marquette finished 31-of-35 from the charity stripe. Also, the Golden Eagles
were able to limit the Wildcats to 37.5 percent shooting from the floor while
also forcing them into 18 turnovers. James is netting 15.2 ppg this season
while also dishing out 4.6 apg, and although he has been a bit inconsistent in
recent weeks, the explosive guard remains one of the most dangerous offensive
performers in the conference. McNeal checks in with 14.6 ppg, and he has
recorded 75 steals. Matthews adds 12.0 ppg, and he is pulling down 5.3 rpg.

No player in the Big East is playing better ball at the moment than Notre
Dame’s Colin Falls, as he has led his team in scoring in five consecutive
outings. In the romp over DePaul on Tuesday, Falls finished with 19 points on
4-of-8 shooting from three-point range, and he did not commit a single turnover
in 31 minutes of action. Rob Kurz added 15 points for the Fighting Irish, who
got 13 points apiece from Luke Harangody, Tory Jackson and Russell Carter.
Notre Dame finished the game with 19 assists against 10 giveaways and shot 9-
of-18 from behind the arc. Defensively, the Irish limited the Blue Demons to
34.4 percent shooting from the field. Carter continues to pace his club with
17.0 ppg, and Falls is netting 14.9 ppg. Notre Dame is averaging 81.4 ppg
overall, including 74.6 ppg in league play.