Men's College Basketball
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          === Irish to try luck in Big East road clash with Friars ===
 
 Providence, RI (Sports Network) - Hoping to stay within striking distance of
 the top spot in the Big East Conference standings, the 21st-ranked Notre Dame
 Fighting Irish challenge the Providence Friars at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on
 Saturday afternoon.
 
 Notre Dame enters with a 20-5 overall record, which includes an 8-3 mark in
 conference. The team is currently a game off the pace set by first-place
 Georgetown (9-3), and the Irish are hoping to extend their winning streak to
 three games today. UND is 3-2 in true road bouts this season, and the team is
 coming off an 82-78 overtime triumph over visiting DePaul on Wednesday. That
 game came only four days after the team survived a five-overtime affair
 against Louisville.
 
 Providence is two games over .500 on the year (13-11), but two games below the
 mark in Big East bouts (5-7). The Friars are riding a three-game win streak at
 the moment, with their latest victory coming in a 76-66 final at South Florida
 on Wednesday night. PC has won more than twice as many games than it's lost at
 home (9-4), and the club's last hosting gig resulted in a stunning 54-50
 triumph over Cincinnati on Feb. 6.
 
 Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Providence, 16-9, and the Irish have
 won the last nine meetings.
 
 Jerian Grant scored 21 points and handed out nine assists to lead Notre Dame
 in scoring for the third straight game, as the Irish slipped past DePaul in
 overtime earlier this week. Jack Cooley logged a double-double with 16 points
 and 10 rebounds, while Eric Atkins tallied 13 points and also dished out nine
 helpers for a UND squad that shot 50 percent from the field and went 21-of-28
 at the free-throw line. The Irish controlled the glass (44-25), but the Blue
 Demons made good on half of their 16 3-point attempts, and committed only
 seven turnovers to Notre Dame's 15. Cooley (14.7 ppg, league-best 11.2 rpg)
 has had a tremendous year, while Grant (13.3 ppg, 5.7 apg) and Atkins (11.8
 ppg, 6.1 apg) have proven themselves to be extremely valuable as well. The
 team as a whole generates 73.6 ppg while yielding 64.5 ppg, and it owns a +4.4
 rebounding margin while converting 48.3 percent of its field goal attempts,
 which includes a 38.6 percent showing from beyond the arc.
 
 For the second straight game, and the third time in the last four outings,
 Kadeem Batts led the Friars in scoring, netting 24 points in the team's 10-
 point win at South Florida. LaDontae Henton added 19 points and eight
 rebounds, Bryce Cotton tallied 13 points and six assists, and Vincent Council
 finished with 11 points and eight helpers. As a team, Providence made good on
 51 percent of its total shots and converted 21-of-25 free-throw attempts. A
 scant six turnovers certainly helped their cause. Despite Batts taking the
 lead of late, he still ranks second on the team in scoring with 14.7 ppg, well
 off the pace set by Cotton, who leads the Big East with his 20.5 ppg. Batts
 and the team's only other double-digit scorer at the moment, Henton (13.5
 ppg), combine for 15 rpg. The Friars produce 68.0 ppg while permitting 63.9
 ppg, and they own positive differentials in both rebounding (+3.1) and
 turnovers (+0.5). They also lead the league in 3-point percentage defense
 (.288).
 
 
 
 02/16 11:10:28 ET

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