Having proven vulnerable in recent weeks, Notre Dame’s nearly four-year run at the Joyce Center may eventually be in danger of ending. Delaware State, though, is putting up little resistance on the road.
After narrowly escaping a home loss, the 12th-ranked Fighting Irish look to saddle the Hornets with their 12th straight defeat on the road when the teams meet Saturday night.
Notre Dame (7-2) hasn’t lost at the Joyce Center since an 80-72 setback to Marquette on Feb. 25, 2006. The Irish, however, need to shore up their play in order to continue their home dominance when Big East games begin.
Notre Dame lost 67-62 to Ohio State at Indianapolis on Dec. 6, then had to come back from a first-half deficit to beat Boston University 74-67 last Saturday to stretch its home winning streak to 41 games.
The Irish will play their next two games at home before opening Big East play at DePaul on Dec. 31. Neither contest is expected to give them much trouble.
The Hornets (2-12) are 0-8 this season away from Memorial Hall, with opponents outscoring them by an average margin of 21.0 points. Delaware State is shooting 37.6 percent on the road, reaching the 60-point mark only once.
Savannah State, Notre Dame’s next opponent, had no chance against the one Big East opponent it has faced this season, losing 100-38 to then-No. 20 Georgetown on Dec. 8.
Facing a couple of subpar teams, the Irish will get a chance to bounce back on offense following two of their worst games of the season. Notre Dame, which ranks among the nation’s leaders in scoring with 82.9 points per contest, was held to a season low against Ohio State and managed only 27 points in the first half versus Boston University.
“Now we have a lot of confidence that even when we’re down, we can come back and win games,” Irish guard Ryan Ayers said.
Notre Dame leading scorer Kyle McAlarney said the thought of seeing the home winning streak end sparked a 47-point second half.
“You do get worried in the back of your mind,” he said. “But at the same time, we’ve got the type of guys that are going to make big plays.”
The senior guard, averaging 18.6 points a contest, is 20 shy of becoming the 49th player in Irish history to reach 1,000.
Luke Harangody leads Notre Dame’s frontcourt. The Irish have struggled even though the junior forward is averaging 24.0 points in two games after missing two contests due to pneumonia.
Harangody had 15 rebounds against the Terriers, but the Irish were edged 40-34 in that category. It was the fourth time Notre Dame has been outrebounded this season.
Delaware State has held its own on the boards, with Arturo Dubois and Frisco Sandidge averaging 8.9 and 7.5 rebounds, respectively. The Hornets were outrebounded by one (35-34) against Rutgers on Sunday, losing 60-55.
It was easily Delaware State’s most impressive game of the season, as it took a 21-10 lead early before the Scarlet Knights tied it 27-27 at halftime. In their only other matchup with a Big East team this season, the Hornets lost 79-49 to No. 2 Connecticut on Dec. 1.
This will be the first meeting between Notre Dame and Delaware State.