GAME NOTES: A pair of underwhelming Atlantic Coast Conference squads will meet up at the BankUnited Center on Wednesday night, as the Miami-Florida Hurricanes play host to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame has endured a disappointing season, especially considering it began the campaign among the likes of the nationally ranked, as it has gone 14-12 overall and just 5-8 in ACC action. The Irish have been on the upswing of late however, having won back-to-back games over Clemson (68-64 in double overtime) and most recently at Boston College on Sunday (73-69) to tip off a three-game road swing.
Miami has also been less than impressive this season at 12-13 and just 3-9 in the league, and unlike Notre Dame, it has been trending in the wrong direction recently with losses in three of its last four. The Hurricanes visited Virginia Tech on Saturday and came away with a 52-45 setback.
Notre Dame has a slim 8-7 lead over Miami in the all-time series, although the two teams haven't played one another since 2004.
The Irish held a three-point halftime lead at Boston College over the weekend and never surrendered that advantage in the second stanza, using an 8-2 run late in the game to seal their fate. They shot a stellar 50.9 percent from the field in the triumph and were paced by the efforts of Eric Atkins, who tallied 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Pat Connaughton poured in 17 points, Tom Knight came off the bench to log 10 points and nine assists and Zach Auguste also scored 10.
On the season, Notre Dame has largely been impressive on the offensive end of the court, shooting just shy of 46 percent from the field for 73.6 ppg, but its problem has come in allowing its opponents to net 70.2 ppg on the opposite side of the floor. It helps its cause with positive rebounding (+3.2) and turnover (+0.5) margins and shoots a strong 72.4 percent from the free-throw line. Atkins puts up 14.1 ppg, 4.8 apg and 1.4 spg. Garrick Sherman (14.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Connaughton (13.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg) are a solid duo in the paint, with Connaughton stretching the floor as well with a team-high 59 3-pointers.
While the Hurricanes played impressive defense in their most recent contest, holding Virginia Tech to a lowly 52 points on 37 percent field-goal shooting, they failed to take advantage with their offensive opportunities, shooting a miserable 25.9 percent from the floor in the seven-point loss. Garrius Adams put up a team-best 13 points. Rion Brown added 12 points and 10 rebounds but he finished the day shooting a woeful 4-of-16 from the field.
Miami's defensive prowess has been on display all season long, as it holds opposing teams to under 40 percent shooting from the field for just 59.6 ppg, with the latter ranking 10th-best nationally. Unfortunately it also has one of the nation's worst offensive attacks, shooting just 40.9 percent itself for a lowly 61.0 ppg. Brown is the unquestioned catalyst, as he boasts team highs in scoring (14.4 ppg), rebounding (6.2 rpg) and 3-pointers (49). Adams is the only other player to score in double figures on a nightly basis with 10.0 ppg, although he does so on just 34.6 percent shooting.
Surprisingly, Miami has not enjoyed the confines of its home arena, going just 5-8 in Coral Gables this season. With Notre Dame playing well of late, expect it to take down the slumping Hurricanes.
Game Date and Time