Preview: North Florida

Another home game, another comfortable home win for Notre Dame. The Irish, behind a hot first half three-point shooting performance, coasted to a 87-54 win over Brown on Saturday night. It was the 27th straight win at the Joyce Center, which is a new school record. A reason for the success is the work ethic of this team, not only in games but in preparation as well.

"I can remember one bad practice with this group," head coach Mike Brey said. "(Friday's) practice was practice No. 40. I remember one where we weren't very good. It was on a Monday after an off-day. They've been real consistent about coming in with hard work, intensity and focus. My feeling is that they'll be very ready once league play starts."

Before Big East Conference action starts on Thursday at home against West Virginia, Notre Dame has one non-conference tilt left on New Years Eve. The Irish (9-2) will host North Florida on Monday. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 PM at the Joyce Center and Notre Dame will be looking for their eighth straight win since back-to-back losses to Baylor and Georgia Tech.

Notre Dame was able to beat Brown by 34 points behind a balanced attack. Six players scored between eight and 15 points, led by Rob Kurz. The senior captain also pulled down 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. The Irish outrebounded the Bears 54-25 and had 27 second chance points. In addition to these numbers, Notre Dame hit 8-of-16 from three-point range in the first half to help the Irish obtain a 21-point intermission lead.

North Florida will make the trip up to South Bend to face Notre Dame and try to stop the home court winning streak. But winning has been an uphill challenge for the Ospreys. North Florida fell to 1-10 on the year after a 23-point loss at IPFW. The only win for the Ospreys was over Concordia. Out of 341 teams in Division I college basketball, North Florida is third to last in the RPI.

The Ospreys head coach is Matt Kilcullen, who spent six seasons as an assistant to Notre Dame under Digger Phelps from 1985-91. North Florida averages only 55 points per game while allowing 72 a contest on defense. The Ospreys have one player averaging in double figures. Tom Hammonds, a 6-5 junior, leads the team in scoring at 13.1 PPG. North Florida has committed 98 more turnovers than assists, gets outrebounded by eight a game and is shooting just 36 percent from the field, including only 23 percent from three-point range.


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