Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Hoops Preview: #24 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh

December 31, 2016

#24 Notre Dame (11-2) at Pittsburgh (11-2)

Date: December 31st
Where: Petersen Events Center
Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network

Quick Facts

- This will be the 62nd meeting between to two programs.
- Notre Dame leads the all-time series 31-30.
- Mike Brey's Irish teams are 11-11 against the Panthers.
- Notre Dame leads the ACC in assists (18.69 per game), assist/turnover ratio (2.03), free throw percentage (84.7%), three-point percentage (40.1%) and three-pointer made (10.23 per game).

The Starters

(Per Game Averages)

Notre Dame

Matt Farrell: 13.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg and 5.8 apg
Steve Vasturia: 14.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 3.2 apg
VJ Beachem: 15.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.3 apg
Bonzie Colson: 16.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 2.0 apg
Martinas Geben: 4.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 0.3 apg

Chris Jones: 7.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg and 2.6 apg
Jamel Artis: 20.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 3.5 apg
Michael Young: 22.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 3.0 apg
Cameron Johnson: 12.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 2.5 apg
Sheldon Jeter: 7.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 1.4 apg

How They Matchup

(National Rank)

Scoring Offense: Pittsburgh: 82.3 ppg (37) - Notre Dame: 83.6 ppg (30)
Scoring Defense: Pittsburgh: 75.6 ppg (263) - Notre Dame: 65.4 ppg (61)
Rebound Margin: Pittsburgh: 4.1 (93) - Notre Dame: 3.4 (116)
Field-Goal Percentage: Pittsburgh: 48.2% (42) - Notre Dame: 47.9% (46)
Three-Point Percentage: Pittsburgh: 37.1% (102) - Notre Dame: 40.1% (30)
Three-Pointers Made: Pittsburgh: 7.8 (153) - Notre Dame: 10.2 (11)
Free-Throw Percentage: Pittsburgh: 73.2% (76) - Notre Dame: 84.7 (1)

Saturday will mark Mike Brey’s 697th game he has coached at the Division-I level, but more importantly he wants to see Notre Dame get to its 12th opening conference win in the Brey era. Pittsburgh will be one of the tougher teams for the Irish to defend, as the Panthers are simply a good offensive team.

With Michael Young and Jamel Artis both averaging over 20 points a game, the Irish need to be aware of where each player is each possession. Brey was pleased with the defensive effort on Wednesday night, but the Panthers are a tougher task.

“They can really score it and our defense will really be challenged,” said Brey. “They play a little bit of zone, but they have two guys getting 20 a night.”

 In Notre Dame’s two losses, VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia struggled at times, which is something that can’t happen on Saturday.

“We can’t get anywhere without our seniors playing well,” Brey said.

It’s not a secret the ACC is tough and Brey is on record stating he believes 10-8 or even 9-9 in conference play will likely get a NCAA bid. Pittsburgh, while tough, isn’t ranked and is a game the Irish will need to stay on pace with getting to double-digit wins in the ACC. If the Irish can get to 1-0 in the ACC, it would be a big, as Louisville comes to South Bend on Wednesday.

This is also a game where it will be interesting to see what Brey does with his bench. Rex Pflueger and TJ Gibbs are sure to play, but after that it will be intriguing to see where Brey goes. Does he go with an Austin Torres for his hustle in a scrappy game or Matt Ryan’s shooting ability?

I believe Ryan will be the difference on Saturday, as he hits a few timely three-pointers and helps the Irish hold on for a win on the road.
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