"This group has done maybe the best job since the Sweet 16 team of really taking that to heart and knowing to play good here," head coach Mike Brey said. "They know to play fearlessly here. We've never played tight here. We never played like we're protecting something. We play like we're going for something and attacking and that's helped us."
Notre Dame will look to extend the winning streak at the Joyce Center on Sunday afternoon. The Irish welcome in Seton Hall (10-5, 2-1) to South Bend. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. No. 22 Notre Dame is coming off a 61-58 victory over No. 21 West Virginia on Tuesday night, holding back a furious late Mountaineer comeback. The Irish currently sit at 2-1 in the conference, one game back of Big East leader Pittsburgh (3-0).
Scoring has not been the problem for the Irish. They rank first in the league in scoring offense, averaging 83 points per game. The one gray area is the point guard position. Starter Kyle McAlarney was suspended indefinitely, leaving the job to freshmen Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples. Both performed well in the win over West Virginia, combining for nine assists to only three turnovers. Junior forward Rob Kurz continues to do the dirty work down low. He ranks fourth in the conference in rebounding at 8.8 boards a contest. Kurz, along with freshman Luke Harangody (12 PPG), gives opponents a one-two combination in the paint to defend against.
Another team that doesn't have a problem scoring is Seton Hall. The Pirates play an up-tempo, aggressive style that has translated positively in a few statistical categories. They're third in the Big East in scoring offense, averaging 78 points per game. Seton Hall loves to press and that's resulted in being ranked first in the league in steals at 11 a contest. The Pirates are also second in turnover margin.
"You want to attack their press," Brey said. "It could be pretty fast in here with us getting up and down the floor. We do have to get back in transition and keep people out of the lane. We have to take care of the ball against their press. They're going to score the ball. We're not going to hold them to 60 points. So we're going to have to be good offensively."
The Pirates have two players who are extremely good on the offensive end. Brian Laing is fourth in the conference in scoring at 16.9 points per game. The 6-5 junior guard /forward has scored in double digits in 13 of 15 contests this season. Laing has also recorded four double-doubles. Another player Notre Dame will have to keep an eye on is Eugene Harvey. The 6-0 guard is one of the best freshmen in the Big East, averaging 16 PPG, good for seventh in the league. Harvey has scored in double figures in the past 13 games.
"They're good off the dribble and keeps you honest with the short jump shot," Brey said of Laing and Harvey. "They have a feel for the game. But the big thing is that both those kids can take you off the dribble at any time."