While Notre Dame hasn’t lost on its home court in nearly three years, it has had trouble winning away from South Bend lately. It’s not going to get any easier for the Irish as they visit a couple of ranked opponents this week.
No. 12 Notre Dame looks to carry some of the success its had at home to the road on Monday when it opens a tough stretch of games at No. 20 Louisville in the Cardinals’ Big East home opener.
The Irish (12-3, 3-1) defeated Seton Hall 88-79 at the Joyce Center on Saturday for their 45th straight win at home, the longest active streak in the nation.
Notre Dame is averaging 86.6 points on 44.6 percent shooting from 3-point range in eight home games this season, but 76.5 points on 37.0 percent shooting in its last four away from the Joyce Center. The Irish have just one win in their last four away from a home - a 92-82 victory at DePaul, which is 0-4 in league play.
The Irish lost 90-85 at Louisville (11-3, 2-0) last season, as the Cardinals went 8-1 against Big East opponents at Freedom Hall in 2007-08.
Notre Dame, which will host the Cardinals on Feb. 12, has lost its last five trips to Louisville since a 61-53 victory on Dec. 20, 1958. After this game, the Irish visit No. 8 Syracuse on Saturday.
“We have two road games ahead against top teams,” Notre Dame guard Kyle McAlarney said. “It’s going to be a battle for us, game in and game out, but we just need to take it one game at a time.”
McAlarney scored 18 points on Saturday, and helped carry the Irish when Luke Harangody struggled.
Harangody missed 10 straight shots while going nearly 23 minutes without a basket before scoring 16 points over the final 10 minutes, when the Irish outscored the Pirates 27-16 in that span.
The reigning Big East player of the year shot a season-low 34.8 percent (8-for-23), just the third time this season he shot below 50 percent, but still finished with 30 points and 16 rebounds. It was the 10th double-double this season for Harangody, who leads the Big East in scoring (24.5 points a game) and rebounding (12.7 per game).
Despite struggling to find his rhythm on Saturday, Harangody has stepped up his game since the start of conference play, averaging 28.8 points and 14.3 rebounds in league games.
“I hope you understand what we’re seeing here. This is a really, very special guy,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of Harangody.
“The guy is a national player of the year candidate.”
Louisville coach Rick Pitino would probably agree with Brey’s assessment after witnessing Harangody’s performance in last season’s win over the Irish.
Harangody finished with a career-high 40 points, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range for his first career 3-pointers, and also grabbed 12 rebounds.
“You have to give him a lot of credit, he had a special night,” Pitino said of Harangody after that game.
Terrence Williams and Earl Clark each scored 14 points for the Cardinals last season versus Notre Dame.
In Saturday’s 61-60 win over then-No. 18 Villanova, Williams scored on a drive with 7.4 seconds remaining to put Louisville ahead. The Wildcats then missed two free throws with 4.9 seconds left and two shots under the basket in the final seconds.
“A typical Big East game,” Pitino said.
Williams finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds, while Clark had 16 points and 11 boards for the Cardinals, who won their third straight after losing two of three.
Louisville’s first two league games were both on the road and it now returns to Freedom Hall to play five of its next seven games, including Saturday’s matchup with top-ranked Pittsburgh.
“I’ve looked forward to this year more than any other,” Pitino said. “You’ll never see 12, 13 teams as tough as this. It’s special, I’ll tell you that.”