Off to the best BIG EAST start in 11 seasons and winners of five-straight contests, Steve Lavin and the upperclass St. John's men's basketball team (10-3, 3-0 BIG EAST) head back out on the road to take on No. 14/15 Notre Dame (13-2, 2-1 BIG EAST). The Red Storm and Fighting Irish meet on Saturday at 8 p.m.
No. 14/15 Notre Dame is 13-2 this season and a perfect 10-0 at home. The Fighting Irish are averaging 78.4 points per game and holding opponents to 63.8 points. ND has one of the best rebounding margins in the country as the Fighting Irish are outrebounding their opponents by 7.9 rebounds per game. Notre Dame is also tied for ninth in the country with 18.1 assists per game and the team's 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio leads the BIG EAST. The Fighting Irish are 2-1 in BIG EAST play and are coming off a 73-70 home win over No. 8/9 Connecticut on Jan. 4. Notre Dame has won 12-straight home contests and has not lost in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center since St. John's took a 69-68 win on Feb. 14, 2010.
• Notre Dame has very balanced offensive attack as all five of its senior starters are averaging double-digit scoring. Senior Tim Abromaitis leads the team in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg) and her 40.2 percent shooting (35-of-87) from 3-point range ranks second on the team. The 6-8 forward has elevated his game in BIG EAST play, averaging 18.0 points per game and shooting 50 percent from the field over three conference games. In conference play, he ranks fourth in 3-point shooting at 61.1 percent (11-of-18). Senior guard Ben Hansbrough leads the team with 4.0 assists per game, ranks second on the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game and has a team-best 44.6 3-point shooting percentage (37-of-83). Hansbrough, who scored 21 against No. 8/9 Connecticut has averaged 16.7 points over three BIG EAST games. Senior forward Carleton Scott (11.9 ppg), senior forward Tyrone Nash (10.2 ppg) and senior guard Scott Martin (10.0 ppg) have also been steady contributors offensively.
• The St. John's senior class is 2-2 against Notre Dame. Seniors Justin Burrell and D.J. Kennedy have been key for the Red Storm against the Fighting Irish. Burrell has averaged 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds and shot 44.2 percent from the field over four career games against UND. Kennedy has averaged 12.0 points and 6.8 boards and shot 45.9 percent against the Fighting Irish. Senior guard Paris Horne has averaged 8.5 points against UND.
• Notre Dame's two losses came against ranked opponents in then-No. 17 Kentucky on Dec.8 and then-No. 5 Syracuse on Jan. 1. Against Kentucky, both teams were tied at 40 at halftime but ND shot just 20 percent (6-of-30) from the field in the second half and lost, 72-58. In its loss to Syracuse, Notre Dame trailed, 34-33, at the break. A defensive breakdown allowed the Orange to shoot 53.6 percent in the second half as the ND fell, 70-58, in the Carrier Dome.
• In 2009-10, Notre Dame went 23-12 overall and tied for seventh in the BIG EAST with a 10-8 conference record. ND was 17-3 at home and 7-2 at home against conference opponents. Notre Dame's season ended with a 51-50 loss to Old Dominion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's South Regional in New Orleans, La. The Fighting Irish returned 10 letterwinners from last season, including three starters.
• Notre Dame's Mike Brey is in his 16th year as a head coach and 11th season leading the Fighting Irish. Brey has a 323-167 overall record and has gone 224-115 at ND while leading the Fighting Irish to seven 20-win seasons and six NCAA Tournament appearances. Brey is 5-6 against St. John's and just 1-4 against the Red Storm at the Joyce Center.