DePaul-Notre Dame Preview

The Associated Press

Notre Dame endured a five-overtime epic thriller to win its last contest.

It only needed one overtime earlier this month to continue its recent success versus Big East foe DePaul.

Having had some time to catch their collective breath, the No. 21 Fighting Irish look for a ninth consecutive victory over the reeling Blue Demons on Wednesday night at South Bend.

Notre Dame (19-5, 7-4) appeared headed for its second straight loss Saturday versus No. 12 Louisville until junior guard Jerian Grant led a 12-4 run in the last 45 seconds of regulation by hitting three straight 3-pointers and converting a 3-point play with 16 seconds left to force overtime. Five overtimes later, the Irish left the Joyce Center with a 104-101 victory.

"It's really something to build on because a lot of guys were part of this," coach Mike Brey said. "I'm very proud of our guys showing a lot of character, a lot of fight.

"Something like this you can build on and we're going to use that to hopefully build our confidence and our toughness."

The longest regular-season game in Big East history featured 26 lead changes and 16 ties. Though the Irish shot 41.6 percent, including 7 of 25 from 3-point range (28.0), they used a total team effort to clamp down and prevail.

"Unbelievable. I'm really proud of my team because many times we were down in the overtimes and kept fighting back,'' Brey said. "It's one of those magical nights.''

It was the second overtime contest in three games for Notre Dame, which needed extra time to pull out a 79-71 win at DePaul (10-13, 1-9) on Feb. 2. The Irish have won eight straight overall against the Blue Demons and five in a row at home.

However, the last thing Notre Dame needs is to come down from such an emotional high and take a step back against a DePaul squad that's trying to avoid losing at least nine straight overall for a fifth consecutive season.

The Irish have won four of five, but are shooting 40.7 percent in the last four. Their 43.5 percent effort against the Blue Demons was the highest of those four games.

Senior Jack Cooley had a season-high 26 points and matched another with 16 rebounds at DePaul, but has scored 21 in two games since. He had 11 and 11 rebounds before fouling out in regulation of Saturday's marathon.

Cooley and Grant, who scored 19 against Louisville, each had 22 points as the Irish shot 59.6 percent in an 84-76 home win over DePaul last season.

Despite its best shooting performance in Big East play (49.2 percent) Saturday, DePaul lost for the 10th time in 11 games, 89-78 at No. 18 Marquette. The Blue Demons have not won since an 83-73 victory at Providence on Jan. 5, but continue to play hard while trying to find what's needed to end their eight-game slide.

"We all have to do a little more,'' coach Oliver Purnell said. "Everyone has to look in the mirror and do a little more. It's that simple. We have to come back and prepare and fight.''

DePaul's Brandon Young (16.6 points per game) had 21 points, six assists and four steals at Marquette. Young scored 15 and Cleveland Melvin (16.3 ppg) added 13 with 10 boards against the Irish this month.

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