Preview: Marquette

Notre Dame is on a roll right now. The Irish have won ten straight games, their first two conference contests and sit at 12-2 on the season and 2-0 in the Big East. Luke Harangody has established himself as one of the league's top players while Kyle McAlarney lights it up from the perimeter. Notre Dame has a chance this weekend to prove their worth away from the Joyce Center.

The Irish have not played a true road game this season. But on Saturday, Notre Dame's first test in this category will be a hefty challenge. The Irish go on the road to play No. 15 Marquette. Tip-off is at 2 PM on Saturday at the Bradley Center. Notre Dame is tied atop the conference standings with No. 8 Georgetown. These are the only two teams without a loss in league play. A win by the Irish on Saturday can send a statement to all the other Big East teams that Notre Dame is just as good away from the Joyce Center.

The conference already knows the Irish are almost unbeatable at home. Notre Dame has rolled off 30 straight wins at the Joyce Center, including two in a row to kick off league action. The Irish handled West Virginia 69-56 last Thursday and followed it up with a six-point victory over Connecticut. Notre Dame actually held a 21-point lead against the Huskies before UCONN stormed back to make it a contest late. Back-to-back three-pointers from Rob Kurz and McAlarney gave the Irish breathing room and McAlarney finished it out with a floater in the late to keep the home court winning streak intact.

On Saturday, Notre Dame will have to be just as good, or maybe even better, to pull out a win in the Bradley Center. Marquette has won 11 straight at home 15 of their last 18 conference contests in Milwaukee. It was almost 14 of 18 as the Golden Eagles played a close game this week against Seton Hall. Marquette was up just a point before Dan Fitzgerald nailed a three-pointer in the corner to stretch the lead out to five and secure a 61-56 victory over the Pirates. Fitzgerald, a 6-9 senior, hit a career-high four shots from behind the arc as Marquette improved to 12-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Big East.

Dominic James leads the Golden Eagles attack. The 5-11 junior averages 14.8 PPG and dishes out four assists a contest. James has improved his shooting percentage from last year. The junior shot just 38 percent from the field in 2006-07, including 27 percent from three-point range. This season, James is up to 42 percent from the floor and 37 percent from behind the arc. James has scored in double digits in all but one contest this year. His running mate in the backcourt is Jerel McNeal. The 6-3 junior is second in scoring at 13.2 PPG and is shooting 48 percent from the field. McNeal, who can use his athleticism to drive to the basket, is shooting only 27 percent from three-point range. Lazar Hayward, a 6-6, 225-pound sophomore, adds 12.9 PPG and pulls down six rebounds a contest in the paint area.


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