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Preview: Stony Brook @ Notre Dame

Irish to be tested by undervalued Seawolves tonight in South Bend.

Game 8: Stony Brook (4-2) @ Notre Dame (5-2)
Date: Dec. 8, 2015
Place: Purcell Pavilion; Notre Dame, Ind.
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPNU
Opponent Nickname: Seawolves
Head coach: Steve Pikiell, 11th season
Conference: America East
Location: Stony Brook, New York
2014-15 record: (23-12; 12-4)

UNDER THE RADAR?

Irish head coach Mike Brey identified the Seawolves among the short list of mid-major teams (including Monmouth) that would likely provide a test for his Irish over the pre-conference slate.

The analytics-based basketball website Kenpom.com agrees, currently slotting Stony Brook as the nation’s 57th best team and one with a 21 percent chance of winning tonight in South Bend. (Notre Dame is 27th in Ken Pomeroy’s current rankings.)

The metrics illustrated that, in short, the Seawolves pound the offensive glass, create turnovers, and score the vast majority of their points from two-point range.

While Notre Dame excels at protecting the basketball and struggles more to defend teams that can fill it up from long range, Stony Brook’s ability to earn second shots could be of concern as Brey’s Irish have yet to be tested vs. an opponent that excels in that regard.

Staked as favorites of just 8.4 points, and after dropping two neutral site contests against Monmouth (a likely NCAA Tournament team) and Alabama (far less likely), tonight’s contest is not a game Notre Dame can afford to lose.

A BIG PROBLEM?

Stony Brook is led by senior Jamal Warney, a six-foot-eight, 260-pound power forward coming off back-to-back conference player of the week awards, the latter of which was won on the strength 26 points, 15 rebounds, NINE blocked shot and five assists in a victory over Princeton.

Warney has posted six double-doubles to start the season and has a streak of 12 straight dating back to last year with 45 to his career credit. With three rebounds tonight Warney will become the sixth player in America East Conference history to score 1,500 points and collect 1,000 boards.

Both Bonzie Colson and Zach Auguste – plus an occasional mix of 2-3 zone – will be used to limit Warney tonight on the Joyce Center floor.

THE MATT’S AND MORE?

The trusted portion of Notre Dame’s bench is currently the two-man show of sophomore Matt Farrell and freshman sharpshooter Matt Ryan.

Farrell affords Demetrius Jackson a chance to play off the ball – a role in which he excelled last season – and Ryan gives Brey the opportunity to play his 4-around-1 style at times, spreading the floor for Zach Auguste, pick-and-rolls, and three-point threats awaiting passes in penetration.

Both Farrell and Ryan will play key minutes tonight but home games afford developing, inconsistent backups a chance to gain confidence and a foothold for future rotations.

Notre Dame might need that from its de facto “eighth man” tonight, Austin Torres, as the athletic forward could be used to harass the aforementioned Warney at times, using a few hard fouls while providing rebounds and a few shots altered along the way against the Seawolves top performer.

STATS AND STUFF

-- Demetrius Jackson: has connected on five of his last eight from long range with 37 points and 10 assists over the last two contests. Jackson has hit for 20-plus in four of seven outings to date.

-- Zach Auguste: Has produced 32 points and 24 boards over last two outings though is just 8 for 16 from the charity stripe in that span. The senior has posted a double-double in five of seven games this season.

-- Steve Vasturia: Has hit six of his last eight from beyond the arc (and 15 of 24 from the field overall) while scoring a combined 39 points over the last two contests. Vasturia has played in all but three minutes of a possible 120 over the last three games.


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