December Preview

In setting a new school-record for most consecutive wins at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame continued its hot offensive play in a 108-62 victory over Northern Illinois last Saturday night. It would have been a difficult test for any team in the nation to beat the Irish in this game and in the process, secured their 25th straight win in South Bend, a new mark in Notre Dame basketball history.

How good were the Irish on offense? Notre Dame scored points on its first nine possessions. The Irish scored 22 points, with help from four Kyle McAlarney three-pointers, in less than four minutes. After the first half stats were tabulated, Notre Dame had shot 72 percent before intermission, including 8-of-12 from three-point range. It all added up to the most points scored by the Irish in the first half and an insurmountable 57-25 intermission lead. In the end, Notre Dame routed Northern Illinois by 46 points, the largest margin of victory this season and shot 62 percent from the field and rewrote the school's history books.

"The players were focused on the streak," head coach Mike Brey said. "I was worried at first but we were confident after the Kansas State game."

The win over the Wildcats gave Notre Dame the quality non-conference they'll need to spruce up a potential NCAA Tournament resume in March. The victory over the Huskies continued the dominance at the Joyce Center. Overall, the Irish are lighting it up. Notre Dame is shooting 48 percent from the field this season and 43 percent from three-point range. The Irish have 62 more assists than turnovers this year.

When will the streak stop? If it does this 2007-08 year, it'll more than likely happen during Big East play. The Irish have three remaining non-conference contests before conference action starts on January 3rd at home against West Virginia. Here's a rundown of these three opponents:

***San Francisco: The Dons snapped a two-game losing streak with a 67-65 win over Weber State on Saturday night. USF's freshman guard Myron Strong led the team with 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals. The Dons will travel to South Bend on December 22nd and get the first crack at stopping Notre Dame's home court streak.

USF (4-5) are led by Dior Lowhorn. The 6-7 redshirt sophomore averages 22 PPG and is shooting 50 percent from the field. For good measure, Lowhorn pulls down seven rebounds a contest, which is also tops on the team. Manny Quezada, a 6-2 junior, is second on the team in scoring at 16 PPG while Strong is third at 13 PPG. As a team, the Dons are shooting 44 percent from the field.

***Brown: The Bears lost to Providence 70-51 on Sunday to fall to 5-4 on the year. Brown had won three in a row before the defeat to the Friars. Mark McAndrew led the Bears with 15 points. The Irish will host Brown on December 29th.

McAndrew leads the team in scoring at 17 PPG. The 6-2 senior is shooting 46 percent from the field, including 42 percent from three-point range. Damon Huffman, a 6-2 senior guard, is second in scoring at 13 PPG. Chris Skelja, a 6-6 junior, adds eight PPG and is shooting 51 percent from the field.

***North Florida: William & Mary came to Jacksonville and defeated the Ospreys 68-45 on Friday night. North Florida shot just 28 percent in the loss and committed 16 turnovers to fall to 1-6 on the year. UNF will come to South Bend on December 31st to play the Irish.

The Ospreys are rated 340th out of 341 in the Sagarin Ratings. The team's lone win was a 16-point victory over Concordia. North Florida has one player averaging in double digits. Jeff Hammonds, a 6-5 junior, leads the team at 11 PPG while James Grimball, 6-8 center, is second at eight PPG. The Ospreys assist-to-turnover ratio is 73-140 on the season and the team is shooting 32 percent from the field, including just 21 percent from the field.


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