The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were able to hold off the Big Green of Dartmouth College on Tuesday by putting up 97 points on an impressive 57.6 percent shooting. Although it’s a bit concerning that the Irish also gave up 87 points to the Big Green and never really put the game away until the closing minutes, head coach Mike Brey was his usual fun-loving self in the locker room after. In their last game before the holiday break, the Irish host the Southeastern Louisiana Lions on Thursday and all Brey wants for Christmas is a 100-point game.
When the offense puts up 97 points, Coach Brey feels like celebrating...— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) December 20, 2017
See what he said to the team after the victory over Dartmouth via Irish Access pic.twitter.com/dwfCEmvTkj
- #BreysChase: Mike Brey is now THREE wins away from surpassing Digger Phelps as the Notre Dame men’s basketball coaching wins leader.
- Thursday marks the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Southeastern Louisiana.
- Southeastern Louisiana competes in the Southland Conference, and Notre Dame is 6-0 all-time against Southland opponents.
- The last Southland Conference opponent the Irish played was Stephen F. Austin in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, when Rex Pflueger tipped in the game-winning bucket with 1.5 seconds left to send Notre Dame to the Sweet 16.
- Bonzie Colson scored a career-high 37 points against Dartmouth, the highest scoring game for any Notre Dame player since Luke Harangody’ 37 against Cincinnati in 2010.
- During the Mike Brey era, Notre Dame is 16-1 in its final game before the Christmas break.
- This is also the last game for the Irish before ACC league play begins on Dec. 30 against Georgia Tech.
- Notre Dame hasn’t won consecutive games since the Maui Invitational.
When: Thursday, Dec. 21, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, IN
How to Watch: ACC Network Extra and the WatchESPN app, with Nik Valdiserri and Conor Clingen.
Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network with Jack Nolan and LaPhonso Ellis. Available on WatchND.tv, via network affiliates and on Sirius XM (Sirius 138 XM 193 Internet 955).
Southeastern Louisiana Lions (6-6)
The Lions are coming off a two-game losing streak in which they had their two worst rebounding performances of the year. They are notably undersized, with their tallest man standing at 6 feet, 8 inches, and their shortest man at 5 feet, 9 inches.
Junior point guard Marlain Veal is that short man, and he happens to be the team’s leading scorer and assist getter. In fact, he leads the Southland Conference in assists per game with 5.3. Veal is averaging 12.8 points per game, and is also second on the team in rebounds while leading the team in minutes played.
Also averaging 12.8 points is Jordan Capps. The redshirt senior forward is 6 feet, 7 inches tall and leads the team in field goal percentage. Capps only averages about 20 minutes a game, however, so he either struggles to stay out of foul trouble or simply plays efficiently when he gets his chances.
The rest of the starting five for the Lions is filled by three redshirt seniors in guard Jabbar Singleton, forward James Currington and guard Joshua Filmore. With just four underclassmen on the roster, Southeastern has a ton of experience. As a whole, they average 74.2 points on 44.9 percent shooting, including 35.7 percent from behind the arc, all pretty respectable numbers. They also play a balanced rotation of eight men who average at least 20 minutes per game. The Lions aren’t afraid to shoot the ball either, with 265 three-point attempts this season and five players who have attempted at least 30.
Southeastern is right in the middle of the Southland Conference standings at 6-6, and it finished in the middle of the pack last year with a 16-16 overall record.
Lion to Watch:
Marlain Veal, PG, Junior
By every indication, veal is the unquestioned leader of this team. As a sophomore he led the team in scoring and assists and has picked up right where he left off in 2017. The fact that a 5 foot, 9 inch point guard is second on the team in rebounds should tell you all you need to know about this guy. He also shoots the ball fairly well from downtown at 37.5 percent, though he shot 40 percent from that range last year. I hate to categorize the short guys together, but Veal sounds like he is as fun to watch as Isaiah Thomas.
T.J. Gibbs, G, Sophomore
Notre Dame really needs Gibbs to start scoring again if they want to have any chance to do well in the ACC. Even though the Irish nearly reached 100 points on Tuesday, Gibbs only scored 9 points on an ugly 2-8 shooting performance. Bonzie Colson can’t drop 37 every game (or can he?) so the Irish have to get more consistency from Gibbs on offense.
Notre Dame 89 - Southeastern Louisiana 72
I’m hopeful that Notre Dame will play better defense in this game, but my optimism comes with caution. Southeastern clearly looks like a better team than Dartmouth on paper, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if they gave the Irish all they could handle. Still, this game is a must win for the Irish if they want to have any confidence going into the ACC schedule, and a convincing win would be ideal.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Irish fans!