South Bend, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Instate foes collide in non-conference action as the Indiana State Sycamores and the 21st-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish collide at Purcell Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.
Mike Brey's Irish have looked strong as they begin a new era of basketball in the ACC. Notre Dame has the benefit of a six-game homestand to tip off the season, that began with back-to-back double-digit wins over Miami-Ohio (74-62) and most recently, Stetson (80-49).
Greg Lansing's Sycamores are trying to reach a postseason tournament for the fourth time under his reign. Indiana State, which plays in the Missouri Valley Conference, participated in the NCAA Tournament in 2011, followed by consecutive NIT appearances. ISU is 1-1 on the young season, opening up at home with a nine-point win over Ball State (82-73), before falling by just a single point in a shootout at Belmont (96-95).
Despite residing in the same state, these two teams are meeting for just the third time on the hardwood. Notre Dame has won both prior matchups, including an 81-72 decision at home in 2010. The other clash came in 1947, also at Notre Dame.
Lansing hasn't had anything to worry about offensively speaking. The Sycamores have shown the ability to fill up the basket early on, averaging 88.5 ppg, delivering on 52.7 percent from the floor, powered in part by a 47.4-percent clip from 3-point range (18-of-38). Senior guard Jake Odum is shooting a modest .429 from the floor, but has gone an impressive 21-of-23 from the free- throw line over the first two games to lead the team at 20.0 ppg. He also tops the team with 6.0 apg. Dawon Cummings (16.5 ppg) and Khristian Smith (15.0 ppg) have shown the ability to fill up the basket as well. Manny Arop (11.5 ppg) rounds out the top scorers on the roster.
Smith was electric off the bench against Belmont, hitting on 10-of-13 shots from the floor and finishing with 28 points in the loss. Odum poured in 23 points, fueled by an 11-of-12 effort from the charity stripe. Cummings chipped in with 12 points. The Sycamores lost despite shooting 50 percent from the floor, as Belmont delivered on just under 60 percent (.596).
The Irish shot the ball very well last time out as well, delivering on 56.1 percent from the floor in their lopsided win over Stetson. Center Garrick Sherman and guard Jerian Grant led the way with 15 points each. Sherman just missed a double-double with a team-high nine rebounds. Pat Connaughton added 10 points to the cause, while reserves Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste finished with nine points apiece.
Notre Dame has shown a balanced effort thus far and as a result, enjoys a +21.5 scoring margin. The Irish are shooting an impressive 53.2 percent from the field, including 50 percent from long range (19-of-38). Defensively, Notre Dame is yielding 55.0 ppg and under 40 percent shooting (.375), including under 30 percent from behind the arc (.289). Grant has begun the season on fire, averaging 20.5 ppg and shooting 65 percent overall, including a scorching 63.6 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-11). Connaughton adds 10.5 ppg to the mix, while Sherman (9.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Eric Atkins (9.0 ppg, 5.0 apg) have made solid contributions as well.