Preview: Providence

A huge question hung over Notre Dame's head last Saturday afternoon. After two straight lopsided losses on the road, doubt started to creep in about the Irish's ability to win away from the Joyce Center. But Notre Dame answered the nagging question with a resounding 10-point win at Villanova. The Irish now return to South Bend in the hopes of continuing their home court dominance.

Notre Dame will host Providence (12-7, 3-4) on Thursday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM at the Joyce Center and ESPN2 will have the national television broadcast. The Friars have lost two straight contests to fall below .500 in Big East play but can get back on track with a win over the Irish. If Providence can pull the upset, it would be the first victory for an opponent at the Joyce Center in 32 attempts.

Notre Dame rides into the game with a full head of steam. The Irish downed then-No. 18 Villanova 90-80 last Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. Kyle McAlarney torched the nets for 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field while Luke Harangody powered his way for 25 points and 10 rebounds. It was the sophomore's ninth double-double of the season and these types of performances are why Harangody was selected as one of the 30 finalists for 2008 Naismith Trophy Award. The Wildcats did make a run late to inch closer but the Irish were able to close the door for the huge road win.

The Friars are coming off a 71-64 loss at Syracuse. Providence tied the contest at 56-all with just over four minutes remaining but the Orange pulled away behind clutch free throw shooting. Dwain Williams led the Friars with 21 points while Jonathan Kale and Jeff Xavier chipped in with 16 points apiece. Providence was just 9-of-29 from three-point range.

Head coach Tim Welsh is in his eighth year with the Friars and has led the team to three NCAA Tournament appearances. Providence has five players averaging double figures in points, led by Xavier's 13.1 PPG. Brian McKenzie, a 6-4 sophomore, adds 11 PPG on 49 percent shooting from the field. Geoff McDermott, a 6-8 junior, does a little bit of everything. McDermott is tops on the team in assists and rebounding at 8.5 boards a contest and fifth in scoring at 10.9 PPG. The problem for Providence has been defense. The Friars are 13th in the Big East in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. Top Stories