GAME NOTES: Following an upset victory in their Atlantic Coast Conference debut, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play host to the NC State Wolfpack at Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday night.
For NC State, the ACC schedule did not get off to a great start, as it was handed a 74-62 defeat by newcomer Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Wolfpack have lost two of their last three following a seven-game win streak, and are now 10-4 overall. That includes a 2-1 mark on the road. They host Virginia next.
Notre Dame, which is in its first season in the ACC after spending the previous 18 seasons in the Big East, did itself proud in its first league game, topping Duke, 79-77. The victory was the third in the last four games for the Fighting Irish, who are also 10-4 overall. The win against Duke wasn't a complete surprise though, considering the Irish are 9-2 at home. However, they play their next two games on the road against Georgia Tech and Maryland.
There is not a ton of history between these two squads, with only seven previous meetings. NC State won the most recent, taking a 61-48 decision during the 2005-06 season.
Despite getting a game-high 23 points from T.J. Warren, the Wolfpack didn't have enough down the stretch to take down Pittsburgh. NC State hit just 29.6 percent of their field goal attempts over the final 20 minutes. Warren was part of the problem, as he accumulated his point total on 22 shots.
Normally, NC State has been a very efficient team under Mark Gottfried. Even though they have stumbled of late, the Wolfpack have mostly lived up to that billing this season, as they are fourth in the ACC in field goal percentage (.477). Warren (23.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg), along with his team, appeared out of sync against Pittsburgh, as he is usually a 52.9 percent shooter. Warren actually leads the ACC in scoring and is the top rebounder on a team that struggles on the glass (36.4 rpg). Anthony Barber (!2 ppg, 4.7 apg) has been solid in inheriting the point from Lorenzo Brown, and Desmond Lee (10.4 ppg) figures in the mix as well.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Notre Dame's win over Duke was how well they did against freshman phenom Jabari Parker, who netted just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting and spent the end of the game on the bench. The Irish also shot at a 52.6 percent clip and outscored the Blue Devils, 44-16, in the paint.
Eric Atkins played one of the best games of the season and arguably his career against Duke on Saturday, scoring 19 points and handing out 11 assists. The senior guard is netting 13.6 ppg and is fifth in the league in assists. He scored 30 points and tallied seven helpers in the previous game. Jerian Grant (19 ppg, 6.2 apg) actually leads the team in scoring and assists, while leading the conference in the latter category. Pat Connaughton (13.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg) cleans the glass well out of the backcourt and is extremely dangerous from 3-point range, where he hits 45.2 percent of his attempts. Garrick Sherman (14.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is another pillar of strength in the starting rotation.
Warren is an extremely potent scorer. However, he is going to have trouble on the road, especially with Sherman likely on the interior. Meanwhile, the Irish are too talented and effective at home for a loss to occur.
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