Georgetown-Notre Dame Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- Facing a potential third straight defeat, Notre Dame shot well enough to pull out a win against one of the Big East's worst defensive teams.
Points likely won't be as easy to come by against Georgetown.
The 24th-ranked Irish may have to slug out a victory Monday night when they host the defensive-minded Hoyas.
Notre Dame (15-3, 3-2) showed some of its toughness Saturday when it avoided losing back-to-back home games for the first time since the 2008-09 season with a 69-66 victory over Rutgers.
The Irish shot 49.0 percent and won for the 47th time in 49 games in South Bend when senior Scott Martin drew an offensive foul with the Irish up by one point in the final seconds.
"I told them, it's going to be hard in this league," coach Mike Brey said. "You have to fight them off after turning it over a little bit, missing some free throws, but we have to make some plays to steal a win. I hope it's something we can build on."
After winning 12 in a row, Brey's club had dropped consecutive league contests to Connecticut and St. John's before getting back on track against the Scarlet Knights.
Now the Irish are looking to start a new winning streak while climbing back into the conference race. They're in fifth place, two games behind unbeaten Syracuse.
Leading scorer Jack Cooley (15.1 points per game) will try to build off his 19-point, 10-rebound performance against Rutgers, which allows the second-most points in the Big East.
Cooley, though, was a non-factor because of foul trouble when he finished with two points in the Hoyas' 59-41 home win Feb. 27 as Georgetown snapped a three-game series losing streak.
Notre Dame's Eric Atkins tied for the team lead with nine points in that contest, and has come up big recently. The junior guard has averaged 17.7 points on 54.5 percent shooting in his last three games.
With points likely being tough to come by against the Hoyas, who are among the nation's leaders in scoring defense (56.3 ppg), Notre Dame would do well to get to the free-throw line. The Irish have made 29 for 34 (85.3 percent) from the stripe the last two games, but are last in the conference in free-throw attempts at 17.0 per contest.
The Irish, however, rank first in the Big East in field-goal percentage (50.6) and 3-point percentage (40.6).
After a 10-1 start, the Hoyas (12-4, 2-3) have struggled since conference play started, most recently falling 61-58 at South Florida on Saturday.
Sophomore Otto Porter had 21 points, but committed a key turnover in the final seconds with Georgetown working for a potential game-winning shot.
Porter has stepped up lately, averaging 20.0 points on 55.3 percent shooting and 9.3 rebounds in his last three games.
Markel Starks, however, will have to bounce back after finishing with three points on 1 of 8 shooting on Saturday. The junior guard had totaled 33 points while shooting 12 of 22 in his previous two contests.
Jabril Trawick has averaged 5.7 points in three games since replacing second-leading scorer Greg Whittington (academically ineligible) in the starting lineup.
Georgetown, which has struggled offensively most of the season, ranks 14th among Big East teams at 64.1 points per game.
The Irish have won five of the last six meetings in South Bend.
Updated January 21, 2013