South Bend, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Still in the hunt for an ACC crown, the 10th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish welcome the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to the Purcell Pavilion for a conference matchup on Tuesday evening.
Mike Brey's Irish have won two of their last three games to move to an impressive 22-4 on the season. At 10-3 in the ACC, Notre Dame sits all alone in second-place in the standings, behind only league-leading Virginia (12-1). The team's 22 wins in the first 26 games matches the best start since the 1980-81 campaign. The Irish are coming off a hard-fought 60-58 road win at Clemson last week.
Danny Manning is in his first season at the helm of Wake Forest. It took some time to acclimate to Manning's style of coaching, but the Demon Deacons seem to be picking things up of late. Wake almost pulled off a huge upset at second-ranked Virginia over the weekend, battling back from a double-digit deficit late to pull within one in a narrow 61-60 loss. The team has picked up three of its total four conference wins in the last five games, however and is clearly playing a better brand of basketball late in the season.
Wake Forest has won all three previous meetings with Notre Dame, including an 81-69 decision last year in the first-round of the ACC Tournament.
Codi Miller-McIntyre leads the way for Wake, as the junior guard has the ability to do it all, averaging team-highs in both scoring (14.2 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg), while also finding time to pull down 5.1 rpg. Devin Thomas is the perfect complement with his interior game. as the 6-9 forward is averaging a near double-double with 12.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game (second in the ACC). Freshman Konstantinos Mitoglou has really turned up his game of late and is now just under double digits in scoring at 9.9 ppg. The young forward is shooting at a 58-percent clip from 3-point range over his last five games (21-of-36).
Wake Forest had a chance for a signature win over the weekend, but Miller- McIntyre had the ball stolen from him on the last possession of the game, as the Demon Deacons came up just short in Charlottesville. Mitoglou led the way for Wake with 18 points, all coming from behind the arc (6-of-12). Miller- McIntyre added 13 points and eight rebounds to the cause, while Cornelius Hudson finished with 12 points off the bench. Thomas struggled though, as he played just 16 minutes due to foul trouble and failed to record a single field goal in his three-point effort.
Notre Dame earned its first 10-win ACC season with the hard-fought victory at Clemson last week. The Irish survived one of the rare poor offensive performances this season, while holding the Tigers to a mere 58 points - the lowest point total ever surrendered by ND in an ACC game. Star guard Jerian Grant once again proved to be the deciding factor for Notre Dame, netting a game-high 22 points in the win. Pat Connaughton poured in 14 points, while Demetrius Jackson chimed in with 11.
Notre Dame's impressive record is fueled by a high-octane offense most of the time. The Irish come into this contest averaging 79.2 ppg, while shooting a strong .512 from the field (second nationally). It all starts with Grant and his ability to both score (17.0 ppg - fifth in the ACC) and distribute (ACC- best 6.2 apg) at a high rate. Connaughton (13.3 ppg) stands at just 6-foot-5, but plays much bigger on the glass, with 8.0 rpg (seventh in the ACC). Jackson (12.8 ppg) and Zach Auguste (12.7 ppg) have been known to fill up the basket as well.