Road Test for Hot Irish

Notre Dame's current 12-game win streak has been impressive on many fronts. Maybe the most is that 10 of the 12 wins have come by 14 points or more. The 13-1 start is the best ever in head coach Mike Brey's seven years with the Irish.

Now, a litmus test of sorts awaits No. 17 Notre Dame. The Irish will travel to Washington, D.C. on Saturday to face Georgetown. Tip-off is at 12:00 p.m. at Verizon Center. This will be the best team the Irish have faced since a 99-85 win over No. 8 Alabama back on December 7th. Since the upset victory over the Crimson Tide, Notre Dame has faced a litany of cupcakes, ranging from Elon to Stony Brook.

Also in that time, sophomore point guard Kyle McAlarney was suspended indefinitely from the team after his arrest for drug possession. The contest against the Hoyas will be freshman Tory Jackson's first experience of a Big East conference game on the road. Jackson showed no signs of cracking underneath the pressure in Notre Dame's first league game. In a 78-62 home win over Louisville on Wednesday, he scored 14 points and dished out four assists but also had four turnovers. Keeping control of the ball and limiting mistakes will be a high priority against Georgetown.

And the Hoyas know how to play defense. Under head coach John Thompson III, Georgetown plays a patient, ball control offense backed up by strong defense. The Hoyas are second in the Big East in scoring defense. They hold teams to 55 points a contest. This is quite the contrast for the explosive Notre Dame squad, who is first in the league in scoring, averaging 88 points per game. The Irish have broken the 90-point barrier eight times and 80-point mark 11 times.

Georgetown (10-3) was a top-10 team in the pre-season polls but dropped out after some early losses. The Hoyas were upset by Old Dominion 75-62 at home. After winning the next two to improve to 4-1, Georgetown lost consecutive games to Oregon and Duke to drop completely out of the top-25. They have regrouped though, capped by a solid 67-51 win on the road at Michigan. The Hoyas have won six in a row and look to open their Big East schedule on a positive note.

It all starts in the middle. Roy Hibbert stands at 7'2" and weighs 278 pounds. The junior leads the team in both scoring at 11.9 PPG and rebounds at 6.4 a contest. He is connecting on 65 percent of his shots, good for third in the league. Hibbert is fifth in the conference in blocked shots with 2.69 per game and will present a big challenge for the Irish's Rob Kurz and Luke Harangody down low. Both will be undersized against the Hoya giant in the paint but a one-two combo with nice post moves could give Hibbert problems and possibly in foul trouble.

In addition to Hibbert, Georgetown has six players averaging at least seven points or more. Notre Dame will have to keep an eye on Jeff Green. The 6-9 junior forward can do a little bit of everything. Green can post up, handle the ball, shoot from the outside and take defenders off the dribble. He's averaging a second-best 11.7 PPG in addition to six rebounds and three assists a contest. Jonathan Wallace, a 6-1 junior guard, also averages 11 PPG but watch him from three-point land. He's fourth in the Big East with a 48 percent mark from behind the arc.


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