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Notre Dame Basketball

Game Thread | Notre Dame at No. 9 North Carolina

November 6, 2019
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Notre Dame (0-0) at No. 9 North Carolina (0-0)


Date: November 6th

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

TV: ACC Network 

Radio: Notre Dame Radio Network

QUICK FACTS


- Wednesday will be the first time Notre Dame will begin the season on the road against an ACC opponent. 

- It will also be the first time since 1999-2000 Notre Dame will face a ranked opponent in a season opener. 

- Notre Dame is 19-0 in season openers in the Mike Brey era.  

- The Irish hold an all-time record of 96-18 in season openers. 

- Senior John Mooney has averaged 17.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in his two games in Chapel Hill. 

- North Carolina leads the all-time series 24-7 and holds a 5-1 record in Chapel Hill. 


THE STARTERS

Notre Dame (Projected)

Name Points Rebounds Assists
Prentiss Hubb 8.1 3.1 4.0
TJ Gibbs 13.4 1.9 3.4
Rex Pflueger 8.1 4.7 4.3
John Mooney 14.1 11.2 1.3
Juwan Durham 5.7 3.9 0.4

North Carolina (Projected)

Name Points Rebounds Assists
Cole Anthony 0.0 0.0 0.0
Christian Keeling 18.7 6.9 2.8
Leaky Black 2.5 2.1 1.2
Garrison Brooks 7.9 5.6 1.3
Armando Bacot 0.0 0.0 0.0

Preview

Notre Dame battled hard last year in Chapel Hill falling 75-69 as the Tar Heels used a 12-1 run to escape the upset bid by the Irish. 

Mike Brey’s starting five is old with four seniors and a sophomore, but the bench will consist of experienced sophomores. The bad news for Notre Dame is North Carolina is North Carolina and holds an advantage in size and athleticism. The good news is the youth of Notre Dame is seasoned after being thrown to the wolves a year ago and Brey is hopeful that experience pays off in the Smith Center. 

"We have played well in that building,” Brey stated. “We've won once in that building. Johnny Mooney is Larry Bird in that building. We're certainly going to need to ride him." 

"They played in some tough road atmospheres so I'm expecting them to come out of the gate excited and ready to compete." 

Notre Dame isn’t a program known for running and Brey is focused on making sure the Irish try to play at different speeds in hopes of slowing down the Tar Heels fastbreak attack, but also managing emotions when the Tar Heels do go on a run.

"Sometimes you have a tendency to play to the crowd and a little fast,” explained Brey. “They're going to have a run in a building like that. On the road, when the crowd is rolling and they're on an 8-0 run, for us to be poised and have a poised defensive possession or a calm offensive possession, we have to be calm and not try to answer back right away.

"I'm banking on some experience. This nucleus of guys has been in some atmospheres. It's not going to be new territory like it was last year for many of them." 

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams knows Brey will have a healthy team for the first time in a long time in addition to the ability to play at different speeds. 

“Mike Brey is stubborn and they play the way he wants them to play. I happen to think saying stubborn is really a big-time positive because he knows how he wants to play. He gets those kids to play that way. Not only do I think he's really a good guy and I enjoy him, I watch his team and I watch his team play a lot during the course of the season.

“The last couple of years he's been hit probably with injuries as hard, if not harder, than anybody in the country, but the way he gets his better shooters to get most of the shots and it's something that I enjoy."

Notre Dame will need to shoot the ball well, which is something they haven’t done over the last year. 

Sophomore Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski will be key pieces to the Irish raising its field goal percentage and Brey has seen positive signs in that area. 

“You've seen in the two exhibitions, Dane Goodwin is more aggressive,” said Brey. “I want him to be more aggressive than he is now. He's more comfortable hunting his stuff and we're running some stuff when he gets in. We want him to go for it. He has to score for us.

"Nate is also in that role a little bit. I give Nate credit the other night. He got in foul trouble and last year he wouldn't have made that three in the second half. That was a big bucket for us. He can go and get you 15 really quick. 

When push comes to shove, Notre Dame has a chance to be much better in 2019-20, but a season opener on the road at North Carolina isn’t an ideal start. 

Prentiss Hubb and Cole Anthony going at each other should be entertaining and one to watch. Brey hasn’t been bashful to praise his sophomore point guard and it will be a great test for Hubb as Anthony is expected to go in the top three of next summer’s NBA Draft. 

John Mooney has put up huge numbers in Chapel Hill, but the Tar Heels athleticism and size will be too much for Brey’s squad on Wednesday. 

Prediction: North Carolina 89 Notre Dame 61

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Game Thread | Notre Dame at No. 9 North Carolina

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