Despite competing in the toughest conference in the nation, Notre Dame has had no trouble defending its home court over the last two seasons.
The 13th-ranked Fighting Irish look to match the Big East record with their 20th straight conference home win on Saturday when they host Seton Hall, which is trying to avoid opening conference play with four straight losses for the first time in four years.
Notre Dame (11-3, 2-1) extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 44 games with Monday’s 73-67 win over No. 9 Georgetown, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Hoyas.
The Irish haven’t lost at home since an 80-72 setback to Marquette on Feb. 25, 2006. Since that loss, Notre Dame, one of a record nine Big East teams ranked in the AP poll, has reeled off 19 straight Big East wins at home - one shy of the Big East record set by Pittsburgh in 2004.
“They really believe in this building,” Irish coach Mike Brey said of the Joyce Center. “This has been a great advantage for us. It’s been therapy for us on the road. Come on home and get well.”
The Irish have won four straight home games over Seton Hall (9-6, 0-3) since a 74-64 loss on Feb. 18, 2001—the Pirates’ only win in nine games at the Joyce Center.
Seton Hall is just 3-15 on the road in conference games since 2006-07, and has lost eight straight road games against ranked opponents since a 65-61 win over then-No. 8 Pittsburgh on March 3, 2006.
A big reason for Notre Dame’s home success over the past few seasons has been the play of junior Luke Harangody, who has won all 40 games he’s played at the Joyce Center.
Harangody finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds against the Hoyas, including 10 points and five boards in the final 11 minutes.
“He’s the MVP of our league,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of the reigning Big East player of the year. “He makes good decisions. He can score from many places on the court, and they surround him with guys who can make shots.”
Harangody is averaging 28.3 points and 13.7 rebounds in three Big East games this season.
He had 22 points and 13 rebounds in last season’s 95-69 win at Seton Hall— the Irish’s fifth straight win over the Pirates.
Notre Dame guard Kyle McAlarney, who was 5-of-11 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points on Monday, had 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc in last season’s win over the Pirates.
Led by Harangody and McAlarney, Notre Dame is averaging a conference-best 81.8 points per game.
Seton Hall, meanwhile, is last in the conference in scoring (72.7 ppg), and has allowed an average of 93.7 points in its first three conference games.
The Pirates have opened Big East play 0-3 for the second consecutive season, and have not dropped their first four league games since 2004-05.
Seton Hall is coming off Tuesday’s 89-85 overtime loss to No. 18 Villanova, its fifth defeat in six games.
Jeremy Hazell scored 23 points in the game’s opening 24 1/2 minutes, but managed just three more points the rest of the way.
“We battled them and took them to the wire,” Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “We could have won and stole this one, but we didn’t. Still, I’m proud of their effort. You can get concerned and caught up with blowout losses, so I knew it was important to play great tonight and I thought we did. I don’t believe in moral victories, so it’s tough to come up short.”
Hazell had 26 points in the loss to the Irish last season.
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