Santa Clara (2-1) at Notre Dame (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 22, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Purcell Pavilion (9,149) -- Notre Dame, Indiana. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Santa Clara 2-0, Notre Dame 2-1. Away Record: Santa Clara 0-1, Notre Dame 0-0. Neutral Record: Santa Clara 0-0, Notre Dame 0-0. Conference Record: Santa Clara 0-0, Notre Dame 0-0. Series Record: Notre Dame leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish continue their season-opening, six- game homestand on Friday night, as they do battle with the Santa Clara Broncos at Purcell Pavilion.
Santa Clara, which set a school record last season with 26 wins thanks largely to its championship run in the College Basketball Invitational, has gotten off to a 2-1 start this season. After defeating Bethesda University (84-39) and San Jose State (89-77), the Broncos suffered their first loss last Saturday at Cal State Fullerton, 86-73.
Notre Dame is also 2-1 on the young season and is coming off a loss of its own, dropping a home bout with Indiana State on Sunday, 83-70. The disappointing setback caused the Irish, who were ranked No. 21 in the season's first AP poll, to fall from the rankings.
Notre Dame won the only previous matchup with Santa Clara, 85-83, back on New Year's Eve in 1970.
The Broncos had their worst performance of the young season in their latest outing, as they were outshot from the field by Cal State Fullerton, 53.8 percent to 37.3 percent, and lost the rebounding battle, 41-35. Brandon Clark finished with an impressive line (23 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals), but he shot just 7-of-22 from the field, including 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Jared Brownridge was much more efficient from long distance (5-of-9) on his way to 21 points, while Denzel Johnson netted 12 points off the bench.
On the season, Santa Clara is shooting the exact same percentage from the field as its opponents (.439), but it is still able to boast an outstanding +14.7 scoring margin, thanks to a relentless pursuit in the turnover battle (+5.7 margin). Brownridge (20.3 ppg) has made nearly 53 percent of his total shots, while Clark (15.3 ppg) has been ice-cold at less than 33 percent. Jerry Brown (11.3 ppg) has made the most of his limited opportunities (11-of-16).
The Fighting Irish fell flat at home against intrastate foe Indiana State, as they fell behind by double digits at intermission and failed to improve after halftime. They were done in by poor shooting, as they made good on less than 37 percent of their field goal tries and were even worse from long distance (7-of-26). Eric Atkins scored 18 points and Jerian Grant netted 17, while both players handed out five assists. Pat Connaughton (16 points, eight rebounds) was also solid, but the remaining eight players to see action in the loss combined for just 19 points.
The lackluster outing was not indicative of Notre Dame's season to this point, as it drains greater than 47 percent of its field goal tries for 74.7 points per game, 10 points more than it allows to its opponents. Grant (19.3 ppg) is off to a solid start from the field (.500), 3-point range (.471) and the foul line (.842), plus he has handed out 16 assists while committing only five turnovers. Atkins (12.0 ppg) also has an outstanding assist-to-turnover ratio (15-2), while Connaughton (12.3 ppg) is the team's top rebounder with 7.0 per contest.
Santa Clara is a very good team, and if Notre Dame isn't careful it could experience a repeat of Sunday's performance versus Indiana State, but expect coach Mike Brey to have his troops ready to go.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 75, Santa Clara 68
11/22 10:41:16 ET