GAME NOTES: The Boston College Eagles and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will collide for the first time since 2005 when they meet for Atlantic Coast Conference action at the Joyce Center on Saturday.
Coach Steve Clifford's Eagles ended a three-game slide on Wednesday as they completed a 76-52 rout of Virginia Tech at home. The win improved Boston College to a 6-14 overall record which includes a 2-5 ACC standing. After the lopsided victory, the Eagles are being outscored by an average of only 1.7 ppg in conference games. Boston College outscored the Hokies 24-1 in points off turnovers to power the sizeable triumph.
Notre Dame has lost three consecutive games, and six of its last seven altogether. The Fighting Irish are 2-6 in conference play this season despite a starting out their league slate on a strong note with an upset of the Duke Blue Devils. Coach Mike Brey's squad committed 20 turnovers on Tuesday as it was handed a 68-53 loss at home by Virginia. The Irish have been one of the most generous teams in the ACC this season with an allowance of 71.8 ppg on 46.7 percent efficiency from the floor.
Notre Dame is 11-10 versus BC in the history of the rivalry. The Eagles are 3-7 in South Bend and have lost their last five games in Notre Dame's home arena.
Sophomore guard Joe Rahon erupted for 20 points, six assists and five rebounds in BC's victory over Virginia Tech. Rahon knocked down 5-of-8 attempts from 3- point range while Ryan Anderson tallied 18 points. Patrick Heckmann added 14 points and the usual leading scorer, Olivier Hanlan, contributed 11 points. Hanlan, who was the 2012-13 ACC Rookie of the Year, is producing 18.6 ppg on 43.2 percent efficiency from the floor. Anderson is the Eagles' top forward with 14.7 ppg and 7.2 rpg. Rahon is nearing a double-digit scoring average and also serves as BC's top distributor with 65 assists against 41 turnovers.
In the loss to the Cavaliers, Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson each scored 10 points to pace Notre Dame. Auguste added seven rebounds and four steals in the losing effort. Virginia converted the Irish's numerous miscues into 29 points off of turnovers and also held a 32-22 edge in points in the paint. Notre Dame has not been the same since losing star guard Jerian Grant at the end of December due to academic issues. Without Grant pouring in 19 ppg and handing out 6.2 apg, Garrick Sherman has become the team's offensive leader with 14.8 ppg. The backcourt of Eric Atkins (13.8 ppg, 4.9 apg) and Pat Connaughton (13.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg) will need to perform at a very high level if Notre Dame is going to overcome the absence of its top performer.
While the Irish are shorthanded, BC is simply not capable of competing with its conference foes on a regular basis. Both of the Eagles' ACC wins came over a weak Virginia Tech unit that Notre Dame easily dispatched as well. Clifford's team can be dangerous if Rahon is scoring, but the Eagles' lack of experience has hurt them in road games.
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