No. 8 UConn Vs. No. 14 Notre Dame: Big East Brawl In South Bend

GAME NOTES: The Big East Conference is loaded this season once again, and a pair of ranked teams from the league will square off in South Bend tonight as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish play host to the Connecticut Huskies.

UConn opened the season with 10 consecutive victories, including wins over the likes of Kentucky and Michigan State that enabled the club to quickly climb the national poll. After finally tasting defeat at the hands of Pittsburgh last week, the Huskies bounced back with a 66-61 overtime victory over South Florida on Friday. The Huskies, who are 11-1 overall, including 1-1 in league play, have played just one true road game thus far, the 15-point loss to Pitt.

As for Notre Dame, it owns a 12-2 overall record that includes a perfect 9-0 mark at home. The Fighting Irish were able to cruise past a strong Georgetown team to open Big East play last week, but the Irish fell to Syracuse on New Year's Day by a 70-58 final on the road. The only other loss to date came against the same Kentucky squad that UConn knocked off.

The Huskies hold a 16-7 series lead over the Irish, and the teams split a pair of meetings a year ago.

No player nationally is more valuable to his team than Kemba Walker is to UConn. The explosive guard has paced the Huskies in scoring in all 12 games to date, and after netting 18 points in the season opener, Walker has scored at least 20 points in every other outing. He is averaging a robust 26.7 ppg and also tops the roster with 46 assists and 28 steals. Alex Oriakhi is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster, as he checks in with 11.3 ppg and 8.6 rpg. The Huskies are generating 77.1 ppg while limiting opponents to 63.6 ppg on 37.9 percent field goal efficiency. Walker posted 24 points in the overtime victory over USF, and Oriakhi pitched in 15 points. UConn made good on just 37.5 percent of its field goal attempts in that tilt, including a 2-of-14 showing from three-point range, but there were a few obvious reasons that the team was able to overcome that inefficiency and earn the win. The Huskies earned a 22-10 edge in points from the foul line and committed seven fewer turnovers than did the Bulls.

Tim Abromaitis has led Notre Dame in scoring in four straight outings and is averaging 16.3 ppg this season to pace a foursome of double-digit scorers. More than just a scorer, Abromaitis is also tops with 7.2 rpg. Ben Hansbrough, one of the nation's top pure shooters, checks in with 15.2 ppg on the strength of his 45.5 percent accuracy from three-point range, and he is handing out 4.0 apg. Carleton Scott is scoring 11.9 ppg on 50.9 percent shooting from the field, and Tyrone Nash adds 10.1 ppg. The Fighting Irish are generating 78.8 ppg while limiting opponents to 63.4 ppg on 39.8 percent field goal efficiency. Strong rebounding has been key to the club's success, as it is ripping down 8.2 rpg more than the opposition. Abromaitis scored 15 points against Syracuse last time out, while Hansbrough pitched in 12 points and five assists. Notre Dame was outshot, outrebounded and outscored from the foul line while committing more turnovers than the Orange, so it isn't hard to figure out why the squad fell short.

As great as Walker has been, his supporting cast is rather average with the exception of Oriakhi, a consistently productive performer. Notre Dame is a more balanced squad and has the obvious advantage of playing at home tonight.

GAME NOTES: The Big East Conference is loaded this season once again, and a pair of ranked teams from the league will square off in South Bend tonight as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish play host to the Connecticut Huskies.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Joyce Center (11,418) -- South Bend, Indiana. Television: SNY. Home Record: UConn 8-0, Notre Dame 9-0. Away Record: UConn 0-1, Notre Dame 0-1. Neutral Record: UConn 3-0, Notre Dame 3-1. Conference Record: UConn 1-1, Notre Dame 1-1. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 16-7.

Notre Dame 78, Connecticut 70

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