November 27, 2015

An early season tournament title might not have been a huge concern of Notre Dame's coming into the season, but now it's not an option.

Same goes for Iowa.

Instead, it's onto consolation play maybe a little earlier than anticipated Friday night in the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, and it's the 17th-ranked Fighting Irish looking to overcome a bit of an upset.

Notre Dame (3-1) opened the tournament with a 70-68 loss to Monmouth Thursday. However, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hawks aren't exactly slouches - they've won at UCLA and Drexel and played USC tough in Los Angeles - and Irish coach Mike Brey is leaving it at that.

"They're a good team than can win their league," Brey said. "We lost to a good team."

The Hawkeyes (3-1) title shot was also a one-day thing, falling 82-77 Thursday to a Dayton team that's had plenty of NCAA Tournament success the past two seasons.

"Our offense didn't move smoothly at all first half," coach Fran McCaffery said. "The start of the second half, it got away from us a little bit. A couple goofy plays. But the last 14 minutes I thought execution offensively was tremendous. We had great looks at the basket."

And they hit many of them. Iowa went 12 of 24 from 3-point range, but after overcoming a 14-point second-half deficit for a four-point lead, things again went south.

"The last 14 minutes, our execution offensively was tremendous," McCaffery told the school's official website. "I was proud of our guys for how they managed the game and clock and we were able to get the lead.

"We were up four after being down 14. We got some great looks again, but didn't convert, and they did. You have to give them credit."

The Hawkeyes are shooting 48.6 percent from beyond the arc in their last three, and that could come into play against a Notre Dame team that's allowed opponents to hit 30 of 61 from outside in its last three.

Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff made four of Iowa's 12 3s on seven chances Thursday on his way to a team-high 18 points, and the senior forward is averaging 16.8 while connecting on 9 of 18 from long range.

For Notre Dame, Demetrius Jackson scored 20 against Monmouth, and the junior guard is averaging 20.5 on 58.2 percent and 8 for 19 from 3 in his first four games as the team's go-to option on offense after the departures of Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton.

It sounds like Brey will continue to look to guard-heavy sets for offensive production.

"Our best flow came when we played small," he said. "That group has to continue to … be more efficient offensively, because that hurt us early in the half. They're going to play a lot of minutes together. Our efficiency on that end - we could've used more because you're just not going to stop them. They're really a tough offensive group to deal with."

Iowa's lost 20 of its last 25 games against the Top 25, though the last time the schools met, it was the Hawkeyes in the rankings. On Dec. 3, 2013, they beat the Irish 98-93 in Iowa, and another high-scoring affair could be in order.

The Hawkeyes are averaging 86.3 points per game and shooting 49.0 percent, while Notre Dame is at 81.0 and 47.0. Of the 346 Division I teams, Iowa ranks 26th in scoring since the start of 2013-14 (76.1) and Notre Dame is 31st (75.6).

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