By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Joyce Center (11,418) -- South Bend, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Savannah St. 7-0, Notre Dame 5-0. Away Record: Savannah St. 0-4, Notre Dame 1-0. Neutral Record: Savannah St. 0-0, Notre Dame 2-2. Conference Record: Savannah State 0-0, Notre Dame 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a chance to add another win to their record as they welcome the Savannah State Tigers to town this evening.
Savannah State was scheduled to play South Carolina State on Saturday, but that game has been moved to January 14th. As a result, the most recent outing for the Tigers took place on Thursday against Texas A&M Corpus-Christi, and the result was a 47-42 victory. That win was the second in a row for Savannah State, which is 7-0 at home and 0-4 on the road. Considering that the club lost to Georgetown by 62 points earlier this season, a competitive effort against Notre Dame seems unlikely.
Speaking of the Fighting Irish, they won their second straight game on Saturday by an 88-50 final over Delaware State. The Fighting Irish are now 8-2 overall, and the two losses came against top-ranked North Carolina and a solid Ohio State squad that is also nationally ranked.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Savannah State on the hardwood.
There is not a single player on the Savannah State roster who is averaging double figures in scoring. Raye Bailey and Rashad Hassan are tied for the lead with 9.4 ppg, but neither is going to scare Notre Dame. The Tigers actually trailed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at intermission on Thursday, and while they struggled at the offensive end in the second half, key free throws and solid defense enabled them to score the victory. Savannah State connected on a mere 28 percent of its field goal attempts, a stat that hardly ever results in a win. Bailey had 10 points, but he will need many more this evening for Savannah State to avoid embarrassment against the Irish.
Notre Dame has four double-digit scorers in the lineup, and those players have powered the Fighting Irish to 83.4 ppg. Defensively, the squad is limiting foes to 66.5 ppg on 40.8 percent field goal efficiency. Luke Harangody, the reigning Big East Conference Player of the Year, leads the squad with 22.6 ppg on 52.6 percent shooting from the floor. He is also ripping down 11.9 rpg and is a beast in the paint. Kyle McAlarney, one of the nation's best pure shooters, is scoring 18.1 ppg on the strength of his 48.5 percent shooting from three-point range. Ryan Ayers provides 13.2 ppg, and Tory Jackson adds 11.3 ppg. In Saturday's romp over Delaware State, Harangody paced a balanced attack with 20 points. The Irish finished with 25 assists against only four turnovers and earned a 41-24 rebounding advantage. They connected on 51.6 percent of their field goal attempts while limiting Delaware State to 37.3 percent shooting.
Harangody and McAlarney will dominate the Tigers, who are clearly overmatched tonight. Expect Notre Dame to lead by double figures at intermission and cruise to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 84, Savannah State 52
12/22 15:51:52 ET
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