N. Illinois-Notre Dame Preview
Notre Dame is enjoying its longest win streak in two seasons as it continues to dominate offensively.
The No. 21 Fighting Irish will be heavily favored to make it eight straight victories when they host turnover-prone Northern Illinois on Monday night.
Notre Dame (11-1) has made fewer than half its shots just once, hitting 55.3 percent from the field to lead the nation and having the best assist-to-turnover ratio in Division I at 1.77.
That offensive prowess was on display Saturday as Notre Dame routed Purdue 94-63. Demetrius Jackson matched a career high with 22 points and Pat Connaughton added 19 and 14 rebounds for the Irish, who shot 51.6 percent and had 18 assists to seven turnovers.
"I think you saw what we can do offensively when we get out, run and share the ball," coach Mike Brey said. "We're really explosive, and I can't say enough about Pat Connaughton and Demetrius Jackson."
The offense was so good that it didn't matter that leading scorer Jerian Grant made three of 13 shots and scored 10 points. Grant made up for that by handing out nine assists, and he leads the ACC with 6.3 per game.
Jackson never scored more than 17 as a freshman last season. He has since topped that total three times for the Irish, enjoying their longest run since winning 12 straight two seasons ago.
"I am trying to be better with the ball and getting the ball to open guys, and that is where I think I have grown the most," Jackson said. "I also think I have grown when it comes to my confidence in myself and my abilities."
Grant, Jackson and Connaughton are among five Irish players who have made at least 15 3-pointers. Notre Dame is shooting an ACC-best 41.3 percent from beyond the arc, also leading the conference with 85.7 points per game.
The Fighting Irish will expect to improve to 10-0 at home and 4-1 all-time against Northern Illinois. These teams last met in the 2007-08 season, with Notre Dame cruising to a 108-62 rout to mark its highest scoring effort at home under Brey.
The Huskies (4-4) are one of the worst teams in the country in turnovers per game (17.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.51). The Fighting Irish average 8.8 turnovers for the nation's second-best mark.
Northern Illinois dropped its eighth straight road game Friday, 58-55 in overtime to Dartmouth. The Huskies rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit only to lose on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"I thought our guys played hard, we had a lot of good minutes from a lot of different guys," coach Mark Montgomery told the Huskies' official website. "There are a couple things that we can learn from but we came out here and battled."
Northern Illinois will be wary of a slow start. The Huskies are shooting 35.9 percent in the first half and 45.9 thereafter.