NC State seeking first ACC win at short-handed Notre Dame
NC State (10-4, 0-1 ACC) at Notre Dame (11-3, 1-0 ACC)
Game time: Wednesday, Jan. 3, 9 p.m. — Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind.
Television: ACC Network Extra
PG — 10 Braxton Beverly (6-0, 180, Fr., 10.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.3 apg)
SG — 12 Allerik Freeman (6-3, 210, 5th-Sr., 15.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.6 spg)
SF — 2 Torin Dorn (6-5, 210, R-Jr., 13.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.7 apg)
PF — 0 Abdul-Malik Abu (6-8, 240, Sr., 7.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.5 apg)
C — 14 Omer Yurtseven (7-0, 245, Soph., 11.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 0.4 apg, 1.8 bpg)
PG — 5 Matt Farrell (6-1, 175, Sr., 16.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.3 spg)
SG — 10 T.J. Gibbs (6-3, 188, Soph., 14.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.1 spg)
G — 0 Rex Pflueger (6-6, 206, Jr., 8.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.5 spg)
PF — 33 John Mooney (6-9, 248, Soph., 3.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.6 apg)
C — 23 Martinas Geben (6-10, 252, Sr., 8.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.1 bpg)
Location: South Bend, Ind.
Nickname: Fighting Irish
2016-17 record: 26-10 overall, 12-6 ACC
2017 postseason: Lost 83-71 to West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Coach: Mike Brey 23rd year overall (492-243) and 18th year at Notre Dame (393-190)
Notre Dame season overview: The Fighting Irish have been the champions of small ball and player development since coming into the ACC, but were dealt a brutal blow Tuesday.
Notre Dame is built around senior power forward Bonzie Colson, but he'll miss the next eight weeks with a fractured foot. Colson is a double-double machine who is averaging 21.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game this season.
Senior point guard Matt Farrell, who emerged as one of the most improved players in the ACC last year, and sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs will have to carry the load until Colson's return.
Notre Dame has wins against Wichita State, LSU and DePaul, but lost at home to Ball State on Dec. 5, and had several unlucky scenarios occur in a 80-77 overtime loss against Indiana two games later on Dec. 16 in Indianapolis.
The Fighting Irish overcame a slow start to rally past Georgia Tech in their ACC opener 68-59 on Dec. 30. ND outscored Georgia Tech 45-31 in the second half.
Head coach Mike Brey goes into the NC State matchup a win away from topping Digger Phelps’ school record for wins.
Notre Dame is 28th in voting points for The Associated Press poll, and KenPom.com also ranks the Fighting Irish at No. 28.
Notre Dame tendencies: The Fighting Irish usually don’t play many guys off the bench. Eight players saw action against Georgia Tech, but three of them played eight minutes or less.
The Fighting Irish rank sixth in the ACC in points per game (81.3), right behind NC State, and are sixth in defensive points a contest (65.6).
Notre Dame ranks third in the league at 39.7 percent from three-point range and often plays four shooters on the court at the same time that can stretch a defense. Conversely, the Fighting Irish also lead the ACC in free throw shooting at 76.9 percent, and are second with 9.3 turnovers a contest.
Notre Dame won at NC State 81-72 on Feb. 18, 2017, the schools' lone meeting last year.
Perimeter: Farrell was slated to attend Boston College at one point, but always dreamed of playing at Notre Dame.
Following a BC coaching change that dream came true, but then he played just 62 minutes his entire freshman year. He stuck it out and it has worked out well for everyone involved.
The floor general broke out last year to average 14.1 points and 5.4 assists per game, and he’s become a bit more of a scoring threat this season at 16.4 points a contest. He is a quality shooter at 40.4 percent from three-point range and has made at least four three-pointers in five contests. Farrell has 72 assists and 32 turnovers this season.
Farrell has scored in double figures in every game, and he went for 27 points in a 83-56 win over Chaminade on Nov. 20, and then posted 24 points and seven assists in a 92-68 victory at Delaware on Dec. 9.
Gibbs has become that third key scorer the Fighting Irish really needed. He averaged a modest 4.7 points and 1.7 assists in 15.0 minutes per game last year, but has jumped up to 14.1 points in 35.3 minutes a contest. He is one of four players to average at least 32.6 minutes a game.
The combo guard had 26 points and went 6 of 10 from three-point land in the 92-53 win over LSU on Nov. 21. He has scored 20-plus points in four contests and is shooting a gaudy 47.0 percent from three-point land.
Pflueger provides another three-point shooter and has become a solid defender, who has 21 steals on the young season. He had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists against Georgia Tech.
The Southern California native is shooting 35.9 percent from beyond the arc and has reached double figures in seven games this season, including 17 in a 86-50 win over SE Louisiana on Dec. 21.
Notre Dame doesn’t have a third ballhandler, but freshman D.J. Harvey offers relief on the wing. The former NC State recruiting target and Rivals.com four-star prospect is averaging 5.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 15.6 minutes off the bench. The 6-6, 220-pounder is shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 31.8 percent on three-pointers.
Frontcourt: Notre Dame has been waiting for Martinas Geben to offer solid minutes in the post, and he is finally delivering as a senior. He has improved from averaging 3.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12. 4 minutes per game last year, to 8.8 points, 6.4 boards and 1.1 blocks in 21.6 minutes a contest this season.
He has scored at least 10 points in six games and has grabbed 10 boards or more in three, including getting 14 points and 10 boards for his lone double-double in a 71-53 win vs. St. Francis of Brooklyn on Dec. 3.
Geben chipped in 12 points and five boards in 25 minutes against Georgia Tech.
Sophomores John Mooney and Nikola Djogo, junior Elijah Burns and senior Austin Torres are all at least 6-7 and provide depth off the bench. Mooney and Djogo, who can also play small forward, have three-point range.
The 6-9, 248-pound Mooney averages 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, and has shot 8 of 17 on three-pointers this season. He had nine points and six boards in the LSU blowout. Mooney or Harvey are the likely candidates to fill Colson's minutes in the lineup.
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