Streaking Notre Dame will play its first Big East road game of the season in a venue in which it has enjoyed plenty of success.
The 17th-ranked Fighting Irish (13-1, 1-0) look for a 13th straight victory when they visit the Verizon Center to take on Georgetown (10-3, 0-0) on Saturday.
Notre Dame is off to its best start since going 24-1 in 1973-74, and is riding its longest winning streak since then. The Irish haven’t won 13 in a row since 1953-54.
This will be the first true road game this season for Notre Dame, but not its first game at the Verizon Center. The Irish beat then-No. 23 Maryland 81-74 on Dec. 3 in the BB&T Classic.
Notre Dame has won eight of its last nine games at the arena, formerly known as the MCI Center. That includes a 4-1 mark against Georgetown.
The Hoyas, however, took both meetings with the Irish last season, including a 67-63 victory in the opening round of the Big East tournament. Georgetown won 85-82 in double overtime at South Bend on Jan. 24.
Three of the last eight meetings have needed at least two overtimes, including Notre Dame’s 116-111 four-OT win Feb. 9, 2002 in the longest game in Big East history.
Notre Dame was impressive in its Big East opener Wednesday, defeating Louisville 78-62. Russell Carter scored 19 points and Tory Jackson added a season-high 14 in his second game starting for Kyle McAlarney.
Jackson is in the lineup in place of his fellow freshman because McAlarney, who started the first 12 games, has been suspended indefinitely after he was arrested on a marijuana possession charge.
“What can we say about the young point guard we rushed in there,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of Jackson. “He’s a warrior, and I’m proud of him. This is a big maturing process for him.”
The Hoyas began the season ranked in the top 10, but dropped out of the poll after losses to Old Dominion, Oregon and Duke. Georgetown, though, has won six in a row and is hoping the start of Big East play will help it finally live up to lofty expectations.
“It’s what happens at the end of the year that’s important,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. “The stuff early in the year is great, it’s good for the program, it’s good for the fans, but at the same time, it’s not earned. And we’ve got to slowly but surely earn it.”
Georgetown was expected to have a strong frontcourt this season led by Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, but both have struggled at times. Green has seen his scoring average decrease for the second straight season to 11.7 points per game, second on the team behind Hibbert’s 11.9.
The Hoyas have managed to develop into the top shooting team in the Big East at 51.2 percent despite their early problems. The Irish are fourth at 49.8 percent.
“We can shoot, we can go outside, inside, and I believe we’re extremely harder to beat now than at the beginning of the season, so people are going to have a challenge with us,” Hibbert said. “Being in the Top 25 is important to the program and to our morale, but we feel just as strong that we’re a better team than a lot of those teams in the Top 25.”