Evansville Purple Aces (0-0) at Notre Dame Irish (0-0)
Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
Game Time: 1 p.m. Saturday
Location: Purcell Pavilion
Broadcast: 91.5 WUEV, ESPN3.com
Probable Starters: Ned Cox, Troy Taylor, Colt Ryan, Lewis Jones, Ryan Sawvell
Spread: Notre Dame -14 (Vegas Insider)
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 76-70 in 1992
1960: UE 92, ND 87
1960: ND 83, UE 68
1962: ND 99, UE 91
1963: ND 78, UE 72
1964: ND 91, UE 75
1964: UE 89, ND 82
1966: UE 105, ND 99
1992: UE 74, ND 56
1992: ND 76, UE 70
Nov. 9: Notre Dame’s Cooley concerns Aces in season opener
Nov. 9: Mix ‘n match no longer fix ‘n patch for Irish
Nov. 8: UE, Notre Dame will also take aim at cancer in opener
Nov. 5: Aces’ Lithuanian center making progress ‘by leaps and bounds’
Nov. 3: Ryan has another stellar game as UE routs Illinois-Springfield
Nov. 2: Notre Dame relies on defense to pass second exhibition test
Oct. 31: Cooley leads experienced No. 22 Notre Dame as it aims for Big East title
—Picked fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll, UE returns 69.3 percent of its scoring, three starters and 11 players overall from last season’s team that went 16-16, finished third in the MVC and played in the College Basketball Invitational.
—The Irish return 88.7 percent of their scoring from last season and the starting five that went 11-4 down the stretch to secure the program’s third straight NCAA tournament bid.
—Both Notre Dame and UE went 2-0 in exhibitions and with similar results. Like with the Aces’ rout of Illinois-Springfield, the Irish blew out Quincy. But NAIA Cardinal Stritch pushed Notre Dame before falling late, just as UE’s exhibition against Division II USI went.
—UE has won four season openers in a row and is 62-31 all-time in records that pre-date the program’s Division I days. Notre Dame is 89-18 in home openers and a perfect 12-0 under coach Mike Brey.
—The Aces are 3-6 against ranked teams under coach Marty Simmons, with all the wins coming since February 2010. Notre Dame enters Saturday ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll and 23rd by ESPN/USA Today.
—Against Big East opponent Notre Dame, UE kicks off a non-conference schedule Saturday that’s made up of teams from eight conferences and Division II Oakland City. The Irish are the only BCS-conference opponent on the Aces’ slate this season.
—Jack Cooley broke out as a junior to lead Notre Dame in scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.9 rpg) last season. Colt Ryan led UE with 20.5 ppg, 11th-best in the nation.
UE coach Marty Simmons: “If you turn it over, bam, they’re gone and looking to score it. You take a bad shot and bam, they’re gone in transition. So our ball handling and shot selection will be huge. Our ability to sprint back and find a way to get them slowed down. Then in the half court they’re very, very talented.”
Simmons on how the program’s first Coaches vs. Cancer appearance came together: “We really searched out a lot of different tournaments to play in, really thought we were going to play in another one, and really coach (Jimmy) Elgas made a bunch of phone calls and this one popped up. We figured it was a great opportunity to play at Notre Dame and get the three home games. That’s how it fell into place, and here we are.”
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey: “We’re not good enough to be looking past anybody – a team that won 16 games last year that is trending up, I believe Marty’s done a tremendous job building his program and building momentum. I watched tape of them in their exhibition – very impressed with them. We had to battle to beat Cardinal Stritch. Who are we to look past anybody? If we could win, it’s a quality win. Whoever wins Saturday, it’s a quality win for the other one. I think Evansville’s going to get into the Missouri Valley and do a lot of damage.”
UE senior Colt Ryan on dealing with Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley: “We have to have all five guys rebounding the basketball. Troy does a great job of it. That’s what we need – all five guys to crash the glass.”
UE senior Troy Taylor: “Anytime you’re playing a bigger team, you’ve got to use your smarts. You just have to stay disciplined, and you have to use your speed. That’s one thing about myself, Colt and Ned – we’ve been working on just getting it out in transition and going, but we have to be smart about it. We can’t play too fast and turn it over.”
Taylor on possibly beating Notre Dame: “I feel like we have a real good shot. We do have speed, and that’s to our advantage.”
Outlook: UE has the guard play capable of competing against most any team in the country. Only Notre Dame has a starting five that can beat any team in the country. For the Aces to keep up with the Irish on Saturday, they’ll need to establish a defensive post presence capable of containing Notre Dame center Jack Cooley and out-play Irish guards. Winning would be a tough task, especially at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame became the first team to post back-to-back undefeated seasons at home in 2008 and, and the Irish 35-1 in their last 36 games there.