Saturday , Mar , 03 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Big East foes lock horns as Irish battle Knights

Piscataway, NJ (Sports Network) – The 22nd-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish
hope to earn a first-round bye in the upcoming Big East Conference
Tournament, and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will try to play the spoiler
role this evening.

A victory tonight would be the 23rd for Notre Dame, and that would be the most
during the regular season in seven years under head coach Mike Brey. The
Fighting Irish have been idle since last Saturday when they knocked off
an outstanding Marquette team by an 85-73 final to finish 18-0 at home. That
victory was the fourth in a row for Notre Dame, which is 10-5 in league play
after a 6-10 mark a year ago.

Rutgers is just 3-12 against Big East competition, and the team has lost its
last three games. Like the Fighting Irish, the Scarlet Knights were most
recently in action one week ago, as they dropped a 74-51 decision to

Notre Dame took a 12-11 series lead over Rutgers with a 90-63 romp over the
Scarlet Knights in the only meeting last season.

Strong defense was key to Notre Dame’s victory over Marquette last weekend, as
the Irish limited the Golden Eagles to 35.8 percent shooting from the field.
Also, a 27-18 edge in points from the foul line certainly helped the cause.
Luke Harangody was outstanding in the victory, as he finished with 22 points
and 13 rebounds. Tory Jackson contributed 21 points, seven rebounds and seven
assists, and Colin Falls managed 14 points and eight rebounds. Russell Carter
pitched in 13 points and eight boards for the Irish, who are scoring 81.6 ppg
this season while limiting opponents to 66.8 ppg. Carter got off to a
tremendous start this season, and while he has cooled off a bit, he is still
scoring a team-high 16.9 ppg, including 16.0 ppg in league play. Carter is a
40.4 percent shooter from three-point range, but he is hitting just 33.3
percent from behind the arc in Big East games.

Rutgers was completely outclassed in the loss to Villanova last weekend. The
Scarlet Knights shot a lowly 31.6 percent from the floor in that clash,
including a 5-of-15 showing from three-point range. They also finished with
only six assists against 14 turnovers and were outscored 19-10 from the foul
line. Marquis Webb was the only player for Rutgers to reach double figures in
scoring in the loss, as he finished with 12 points. As for JR Inman, he pulled
down a game-high 14 rebounds. Inman is averaging 12.1 ppg and 7.3 rpg this
season, and Webb is posting 10.0 ppg. The Scarlet Knights struggle mightily to
generate offense, as they are managing a mere 59.6 ppg on 38.9 percent shooting
from the field.