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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

Irish prepare to face South Carolina in inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge

Coming off two wins in a row, Notre Dame men's basketball heads to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks on Tuesday. The game is part of the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. Next year, Notre Dame will host an SEC team at Purcell Pavilion. The Challenge aims to pit two similarly competitive teams against one another.

South Carolina enters the game at 5-0. The Gamecocks have won bouts against Virginia Tech and DePaul. However, they have yet to face a ranked opponent. Prior to Thanksgiving week, the team traveled to Phoenix to play in the Arizona Tip-Off at the Desert Diamond Arena, the former home of the Arizona Coyotes.

The Gamecocks play a fast, pass-first offense in which any of the five players on the court can take the shot. Guard Ta'Lon Cooper currently leads the SEC in assists at 5.4 per game. Head coach Lamont Paris enters his second season with the program after struggling to an 11-21 record last year. For years, under former head coach Frank Martin, the Gamecocks relied on one or two shooters to carry the team, a philosophy that led the program to the Final Four in 2017. Martin was fired following the 2021-2022 season.

The Irish return to action after resting for a week. In Notre Dame's home win against Maryland Eastern Shore last Wednesday, Kebba Njie saw his first action of the year after being sidelined with a hand injury. Njie, a sophomore forward, followed Irish head coach Micah Shrewsberry from Penn State. Last year, he shot 52% from the field while averaging 14.3 minutes per game. Additionally, freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry had his best game of the season on Wednesday, shooting 4-of-6 from three. He finished with 13 points.

Look for Micah Shrewsberry's team to continue to play slow on offense, emphasizing preset plays and spreading the floor. Shrewsberry will likely continue running a man-to-man defense, but, at times, will utilize different looks, especially after timeouts.

Last week, Shrewsberry gave his players two days off from practice before resuming game preparation. Tuesday's matchup will be the first meeting between the two schools since 1984. Notre Dame and South Carolina have met 15 times, with the Irish holding a 10-5 edge all-time.

Tuesday's matchup tips off at 7:00 p.m. on the SEC Network.

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