(14) Notre Dame (21-5) at Providence (14-13)

Sunny Currently: Providence, RI, US
Temp: 37° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Wed Feb 23, 2011
Preview | Box Score | Recap

It’s been a while since Notre Dame coach Mike Brey had to prepare his team after a loss.

His ninth-ranked Fighting Irish seek to recover Wednesday night when they go on the road and look for an eighth straight victory over Providence.

Notre Dame (21-5, 10-4 Big East) had its seven-game win streak snapped with a 72-58 loss at West Virginia on Saturday. The Fighting Irish shot 35.0 percent - their lowest mark in conference play.

The loss cost Notre Dame a chance to move within one game of first-place Pittsburgh, which lost to St. John’s on Saturday but maintained a two-game lead in the Big East race. The Irish had not lost since falling at St. John’s on Jan. 16.

“We addressed some things business-like-wise,” Brey said. “You kind of get back to, how do you bounce back in the league. We haven’t had to deal with that in a month. Usually you have to deal with that more.”

The Irish should be favored to bounce back. They have won seven straight overall against Providence (14-13, 3-11) and five in a row on the road in the series since the Friars’ last home win Feb. 28, 1998.

Brey, however, is worried about trying to slow down Big East scoring leader Marshon Brooks, averaging 24.4 points. Brooks is averaging 10.0 points on 34.5 percent shooting in two career games against Notre Dame, but he’s a far different player now as a senior, increasing his scoring average by more than 10 points.

“The guy just has go-off ability when you see the 30s and the 38s, that’s certainly a concern,” Brey said. “That’s gotta be some matchups. I am not sure who will start on him, but it’s gotta be a real team awareness on a guy like this.”

The Friars also boast the conference leader in assists in Vincent Council, who averages 6.2.

Providence, though, has dropped four straight, with two disappointing home losses last week. The Friars fell 79-76 to last-place DePaul on Thursday and 93-81 in overtime to Cincinnati on Saturday.

Providence has also shown the ability to compete with the elite teams in the conference, beating then-No. 19 Louisville on Jan. 22 and then-No. 8 Villanova four days later.

“They scare the heck out of me, I’ve been doing this a long time,” Brey said. “I look at they got St. John’s beat, and they beat Louisville and they had Pitt beat. (Travon) Woodall has to throw in a 3 or Pitt’s beat.

“I’m prepared for that. And the law of averages says that’s what we’ll get. I know they’ve had two tough losses, (but) I think that’s what we’ll get. They’ll probably have a good crowd up there with us coming to town, I would think.”

Notre Dame had trouble getting the ball inside Saturday against West Virginia’s zone defense. The Irish’s 27 3-point attempts were their most in Big East action, and their 11 assists matched their fewest in a conference game.

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