Irish play host to Huskies

Dec 22, 2014 - 3:32 PM South Bend, IN ( - The Notre Dame Fighting Irish begin a three-game homestand that will carry over into the next calendar year, as they welcome the Northern Illinois Huskies to Purcell Pavilion on Monday.

Mike Brey's Irish have just one blemish on their early season slate and that came at Providence back on Nov. 22 by a single point (75-74). Since then the team has run off seven straight victories, moving to 11-1 on the season with a 94-63 blasting of Purdue in the Crossroads Classic on Saturday in Indianapolis.

Mark Montgomery's Huskies have struggled with consistency as their 4-4 overall record can attest to. NIU opened the season with three wins in the first four games, but things have turned around of late with losses in three of the last four, including a heart-breaking 58-55 overtime decision at Dartmouth on Friday.

Notre Dame has won three of the four all-time meetings with Northern Illinois, including a 108-62 rout in the last matchup in 2007.

Northern Illinois trailed by 14 at the half to Dartmouth, but held the Big Green to a meager 13 second-half points to force overtime, before falling by three points on the road. NIU really struggled offensively in the game, converting just 39.1 percent from the floor, despite a solid 8-of-20 from behind the arc. Guard Aaron Armstead led the way in defeat with 12 points and eight rebounds. Fellow guard Anthony Johnson and center Jordan Threloff chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Threloff just missed a double- double with a team-high nine boards.

Strong offensive numbers have been hard to come by for the Huskies, who are generating a rather bland 65.2 ppg, on just .403 shooting. The team has remained competitive though by allowing just 63.5 ppg, while holding an solid +9.8 rebounding edge. Aaric Armstead and Darrell Bowie are tied for the team lead in scoring at 11.8 ppg each. Threloff is shooting a team-best .565 from the floor and is averaging a near double-double with 10.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

While the Huskies have had problems putting up points, the Irish have excelled in that area. Notre Dame is among the nation's top teams in both scoring (85.7 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.553). The accuracy has carried beyond the 3- point line as well (.413). The scoring depth is vast, with four of the team's five starters averaging double figures. Guard Jerian Grant is both a prolific scorer (18.2 ppg) and deft distributor (4.7 apg). Zach August (14.8 ppg) and Demetrius Jackson (14.0 ppg) can fill up the basket as well. Pat Connaughton (13.3 ppg) rounds out the team's top offensive threats.

Notre Dame shot .543 from the floor in the second half to really distance itself from the Boilermakers over the weekend and earn a 31-point romp. Six Irish players notched double figures in the scoring onslaught, led by Jackson's 22 points. Connaughton was unstoppable as well with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Steve Vasturia and Austin Torres tacked on 11 points apiece, while Grant and Auguste finished with 10 each. Grant just missed a double-double of his own, doling out nine assists.

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