Seton Hall-Notre Dame Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- Undefeated since mid-November and coming off an extended break, Notre Dame is eager to begin Big East play.
The No. 21 Fighting Irish try for an 11th straight victory Saturday while looking to continue their home dominance over Seton Hall, winner of seven in a row.
Playing in the shadows of the school's undefeated football team, Notre Dame (12-1) is one of the nation's hottest basketball teams. The Irish have shot 53.2 percent during their 10-game winning streak.
Looking to win 11 straight for the first time since a 12-game run Nov. 14, 2006-Jan. 3, 2007, Notre Dame should be well rested for its first contest since an 89-67 victory over Niagara on Dec. 21.
"Our antenna has risen," coach Mike Brey said. "Our guys have been waiting for (the Big East season). Our attention to detail has gone up. It starts Saturday and you can't look past Saturday."
Notre Dame has won 31 of 40 conference games including 19 of 20 at home. Their 47-6 Big East record at the Joyce Center over the last six seasons is best in the league during that span.
The Irish are 10-1 against Seton Hall (12-2, 1-0) at home, where they have won six in a row over the Pirates. Notre Dame has taken three in a row overall in the series by an average of 12.3 points.
Brey believes the Irish's victory over Niagara, in which they shot a season-high 62.0 percent and held a 41-29 rebounding advantage, might have helped them get ready for Saturday's contest.
"(Niagara plays) a little bit like Seton Hall; spread you out, shoot the ball, scoring guys, play some zone," he said. "As I'm watching the tape of Niagara I'm going, 'This is kind of like our next game.'"
Senior Jack Cooley set career highs with 24 points and 15 rebounds against the Purple Eagles. Averaging team highs of 15.2 points and 11.3 boards, Cooley is enjoying a career season and Brey is especially pleased with his work on the glass.
"It's just his will to go after that thing," Brey said. "And he's very underrated as an athlete. When he gets near it, it's usually his."
Seton Hall opened Big East play with a 73-72 win at DePaul on Wednesday. Fuquan Edwin made the winning layup with 6.9 seconds left for the Pirates, who last won eight consecutive games Nov. 22-Dec. 23, 2011.
They have not been 2-0 on the road in the Big East since a 3-0 start in 1999-2000.
Sophomore guard Aaron Cosby scored a career-high 24 points against the Blue Demons as the Pirates went 10 of 24 (41.7 percent) from 3-point range. They outrebounded DePaul 40-32 despite playing with seven healthy players.
Seton Hall is shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arc, second in the league to Notre Dame's 38.7.
Edwin is averaging a team-leading 17.7 points and shooting 51.7 percent, but he's scored 10.7 and shot 34.4 percent over the last three contests. The junior has totaled nine points and made 3 of 15 from the field in two games versus Notre Dame.
Updated January 4, 2013