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NC State, Notre Dame can reach small milestones in matchup

nc-state,-notre-dame-can-reach-small-milestones-in-matchup

It’s been nearly two years since Notre Dame won back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference games.

And, even longer since North Carolina State opened 2-0 on the road in league play.

Each will also try for a third straight victory Wednesday night, when the Fighting Irish host the Wolfpack in South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame (6-7, 1-1 ACC) begins the new year with confidence after rebounding from a three-game skid, which included a 65-45 home loss to The Citadel on Dec. 12. Consecutive home wins followed against Marist, 60-56 on Dec. 22, and Virginia, 76-54 on Saturday.

J.R. Konieczny (10.3 ppg) and freshman Carey Booth each had 17 points against Virginia for Notre Dame, which shot 51 percent, including 11-of-23 from 3-point range. The Irish also held their second straight opponent to fewer than 60 points.

“We’ve gotten closer since that (loss to The Citadel),” Notre Dame coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “We’ve trusted each other.

“We got a lot of heart. We got a lot of fight. We’ve got a lot of character.”

After going 3-17 in league play last season, the Irish can now win consecutive ACC games for the first time since beating Syracuse and Georgia Tech on Feb. 23 and 26, 2022.

However, the task won’t be easy against NC State (9-3, 1-0), which averages nearly 80 points and has won five of its last six. Combined with an 84-78 overtime victory at Boston College on Dec. 2, the Wolfpack can open with two straight ACC road wins for the first time since January 2012 (vs. Wake Forest and Miami).

“I like where we’re at,” said coach Kevin Keatts, whose team hasn’t played since an 83-66 home victory over Detroit Mercy on Dec. 23.

“I like our mentality. We’re right there,” Keatts said. “I like the way we’re scrappy. I like the way we’re playing.”

Two-time transfer DJ Horne (formerly at Illinois State, then Arizona State) scored 26 against Detroit Mercy, and he averaged 18.8 points while shooting 24 of 46 from beyond the arc in six December games.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame star freshman Markus Burton averaged 17.2 points and shot 45.8 percent from the floor in six games last month.

–Field Level Media

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