Old Friends

Former Independent rival DePaul travels approximately 100 miles east to take on current Big East foe Notre Dame for the series 100th matchup. Irish Eyes offers a preview.

One of college basketball oldest rivalries returns to South Bend today as the 14-5 Irish host long-time rival DePaul. Losers of 24 consecutive Big East matchups, DePaul snapped its streak with a 51-50 upset win over Marquette on Wednesday.

This will be the 100th meeting between the Irish and the Blue Demons with Notre Dame holding a 55-44 advantage. Tip-off is set for 2 pm (ET) though the game will not be televised.

At a Glance

Notre Dame: 14-5 (3-3)
  • Losses: Northwestern (Chicago Classic) and Loyola Marymount; at UConn and at Cincinnati; vs. Syracuse.
  • Best Win: UCLA in December; West Virginia
  • Losses for the Selection Committee's Consideration: home vs. LMU; at Cincinnati.

DePaul: 8-10 (1-5)
  • Losses: Numerous, including games at Pittsburgh, Villanova and St. John's and at home vs. Pittsburgh and Providence in Big East action.
  • Best wins: Marquette on Wednesday. The Blue Demons also bested Detroit over Thanksgiving.
  • Loss for the Selection Committee's Consideration: N/A. DePaul would need to win 10 of its next 12 contests to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament.

Meet the Blue Demons

Interim head coach Tracy Webster replaced fired Jerry Wainwright on December 11 and shortly thereafter earned the program's first league win in more than 22 months, with an upset of Marquette earlier this week.

  • Will Walker has shown the quickness to get into the lane this season, leading the team with 15 points per game while adding three rebounds and 2.6 assists vs. 1.6 turnovers. Like the rest of the Blue Demons, Walker is a bit inefficient as a shooter, hitting 35 percent overall (30 from long range) and 67 percent from the line, though he can get hot from long-range and the Joyce Center Floor at the Purcell Pavilion has a reputation as one of the best shooting courts in the nation.

  • Sophomore Jeremiah Kelly has provided a lift at the point with a solid 2.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is second on the squad in both minutes played (31.5 per game) and 3-point shots made (14) and attempted (55), but at just a shade over 25 percent from long range, Kelly can be controlled with a sagging perimeter defender.

    Kelly played just nine minutes in last season's matchup between the teams, but won the starting job midway through the 2009 conference season. He played a key role in the Blue Demons first conference win, scoring 10 points and dishing out 3 assists without a turnover in a 51-50 upset of Marquette on Wednesday. Kelly's court vision and ability to create offense to compliment Walker is paramount to the Blue Demons success.

  • Another transfer, sophomore forward Eric Wallace rounds out the Blue Demons starting five. After a handful of high volume shooting nights in non-conference play, Wallace has better accepted his role offensively, rarely attempting more than 7-8 shots in Big East action while averaging just four points per game vs. league foes. Wallace has hit the boards consistently this season, leading the (active) Blue Demons with 5.4 rebounds per contest including nine game with at least seven caroms. Wallace is an excellent finisher at the rim but not much of a shooting threat.

  • Sophomore Devin Hill put together a trio of double-digit efforts prior to conference action but the lanky 6'9" forward hasn't converted on more than two shots since that time.

  • Chicago native Mike Stovall, a junior transfer who began his career at Oregon State before playing at the JuCo level last season, has played his best ball of the year over the last three contests and averaging nearly 17 points and four rebounds including a career-high 30-point effort vs. Providence. Stovall remains a bit careless with the ball in his first season with extended minutes at the Division I level, leading DePaul with 36 turnovers from the forward spot.

  • The Blue Demons best player, 6'10" 255-pound junior center Mac Koshwal has played just seven contests this season due to two severe foot injuries. Koshwal contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds per game when healthy and burned the Irish for 26 points and 11 boards in last year's 10-point Irish victory.

    Starting in Koshwal's stead has been Krys Faber (5 points and 7 boards in just over 27 minutes per game over the last three contests). The 6'11" 260-pound sophomore collected 10 rebounds vs. Marquette in Wednesday's streak-snapping victory.

  • Mario Stula should see action off the bench as will backup freshman guard Nate Rogers whose minutes have increased over the last three contests.

The Last Time

The then-No. 10 ranked Irish handled the Blue Demons 92-82 at All-State Arena in last season's conference opener for both teams. Luke Harangody led Notre Dame with 26 points and 16 rebounds and each of the team's five starters scored in double figures.

Koshwal answered Harangody in the post with 26 points and 11 boards of his own and departed shooting guard Dar Tucker chipped in 24.

Stats and Streaks

  • Today's game marks the 100th meeting between the programs. DePaul is Notre Dame's third most common opponent trailing only Marquette (112 matchups) and Butler (102 meetings) among Irish foes.
  • The Blue Demons are just 7-34 all-time in games played in South Bend and last beat the Irish in 2004 (prior to DePaul's entrance into the Big East Conference). Irish head coach Mike Brey is 8-3 in his career vs. the Blue Demons.
  • The February 1980 meeting between the teams in South Bend is considered one of the greatest games in Notre Dame history as the 14th ranked Irish upset No. 1 DePaul, 76-74 in double-overtime at the Athletic and Convocation Center. The win snapped DePaul's 27-game winning streak.
  • Tory Jackson's 15-assist performance in Monday's loss to No. 5 Syracuse was the most ever by an Irish player in Big East action and the third-highest total by a player in Notre Dame's home court history. Former Irish star Jackie Meehan holds the court and program's single-game record of 17 assists, set vs. Creighton in February 1971.
  • The Irish have been installed as a 16.5-point favorite vs. the Blue Demons.

Prediction

DePaul gained much-needed confidence with a win on Wednesday, its first in conference play since March 2008. Don't bet on two straight.

The Irish, in the midst of a two-game losing streak, should jump on the Blue Demons early. Look for junior forward Tyrone Nash to get back on track after consecutive sub par games and both Harangody and Tim Abromaitis to light up the scoreboard from the opening tip, en route to the squad's easiest victory since the conference-opener vs. Providence in late December.

Notre Dame 92 DePaul 74


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