Kennesaw State (2-1) at (23) Notre Dame (4-0)
Tuesday, November 24th, 7:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Joyce Center (9,149) -- South Bend, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Kennesaw St. 2-0, Notre Dame 4-0. Away Record: Kennesaw St. 0-1, Notre Dame 0-0. Neutral Record: Kennesaw St. 0-0, Notre Dame 0-0. Conference Record: Kennesaw St. 0-0, Notre Dame 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The 23rd-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish close out a five-game homestand to start the 2009-10 season, when they welcome the Kennesaw State Owls to South Bend, as part of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.
The Irish have made light work of the competition, posting four straight double-digit victories to enter the top-25 this week. Last time out, Notre Dame took care of Liberty in first-round action of this event with a 91-72 decision. The win also extended Notre Dame's current home win streak against non-conference opponents to an impressive 41 games.
The Owls are 2-1 on the young season, posting a pair of home wins to open the year against North Greenville (89-79) and North Georgia (78-65). However, the team's first road trip resulted in a 76-66 loss at Saint Louis in first-round action of this tournament on Sunday.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.
The Owls got 17 points from senior Jon-Michael Nickerson and 14 from freshman Markeith Cummings, but it wasn't enough, as the Billikens shot a blistering 58 percent from the floor, leading to KSU's first loss of the season. KSU shot a solid 50 percent from the floor in the second half, but couldn't match Saint Louis' 65.4 percent effort over the same span of time. Spencer Dixon came off the bench to add 10 points to the cause, but it wasn't enough in the end. Nickerson and Cummings have been a solid one-two combo for KSU thus far, as both have scored in double figures in all three games.
The Irish have proved to be an offensive juggernaut in the early stages of the season, averaging 88.5 points per game on a hefty .541 shooting percentage. It certainly helps to have one of the nation's top big men in the paint in the form of 6-8 senior Luke Harangody. The veteran forward is averaging a gaudy 26.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game thus far and is on the verge of becoming the first player in Notre Dame history to eclipse 2,000 points (1,930) and 1,000 rebounds (986) for his career. Scoring depth behind Harangody comes in the form of Mississippi State transfer Ben Hansbrough (13.5 ppg), who has teamed with Tim Abromaitis (13.3 ppg) to give the Irish a pair of lethal long range threats. The pair have both converted 11-of-16 from three-point range (.688). Point guard Tory Jackson (10.0 ppg, 6.0 apg) rounds out the top scoring options. In the recent win over Liberty, Harangody erupted for 32 points, on 10-of-14 shooting, while going a perfect 10-of-10 from the free- throw line. Abromaitis and Tyrone Nash added 12 points apiece for Notre Dame.
The Irish are clearly the pick here. The Owls will have no answer for Harangody in this one. Expect ND's big man to once again approach 30+ points, in what should be a lopsided affair.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 94, Kennesaw State 58
11/24 10:43:54 ET