Trap City?

Demetrius Jackson (left) and Eric Atkins

It's not often a head basketball coach references home town weather as an impediment to his team's forthcoming contest, but such is life for Notre Dame's Mike Brey in Blizzard-ville, USA, tonight as his 10-4 Irish entertain like-ledgered N.C. State.

"We have a chance to be 2-0 in this league on Tuesday night. We need our crowd, just like they were (vs. Duke)," said Brey. "I know it's going to be negative seven degrees, but for us to go 2-0 in this league before we go on the road, it would be huge.

Saturday against Duke, it was "No students? No problem" in terms of home court advantage. But tonight's atmosphere is bound to be subdued with tickets advertised for $5 and few forecasted to brave the record cold temperatures and icy streets of South Bend for a 9 p.m. tip-off.

The energy Notre Dame gleaned from its supporters vs. blue blood Duke on Saturday will likely be in short supply vs. the Wolfpack.

Thus, it's between the lines or bust for a team that's played in front of packed houses in three of its last four with marquee foes Indiana (Bankers Life Fieldhouse), Ohio State (Madison Square Garden), and the Blue Devils occupying the opposite sidelines.

As for tonight's visitors?

"N.C. State is really athletic," said Brey. "They pound away close to the bucket like our big guys. They play close to the bucket. They are not as much of a perimeter team (as was Duke) and they're searching for a win."

Three of the Wolfpack's four losses were to superior and/or peer foes including two losses in their last three outings: January 4 at Pittsburgh and December 28 vs. No. 25 Missouri, a 68-64 decision in Raleigh. In November, N.C. State lost at Cincinnati, 68-57, and at home in overtime eight days later to North Carolina Central.

The latter could sting on Selection Sunday. Tonight's contest in South Bend would be Step #1 toward mitigating their non-conference blemishes.

The Irish are staked as a 7-point favorite tonight vs. the Wolfpack.

Irish Personnel Preview

A look at Notre Dame's nine regular contributors -- each of whom has played a key role over the last two outings since starting guard Jerian Grant was suspended for an academic violation.

Senior Eric Atkins: Repeat ACC Player of the Week has posted 49 points and 18 assists since the loss of his backcourt mate Grant…Has connected on 17 of 27 shots from the field over the last two outings.

Freshman Demetrius Jackson Hit a key three-point shot, recorded the game's decisive steal on an errant pass, and nailed the contest's clinching pair of free throws thereafter in Saturday's 79-77 win over Duke.

5th-year senior Garrick Sherman: Has 71 points and 40 rebounds over the last five outings, connecting on just over 50 percent of his field goal attempts in that span…Sherman's jump hook with just over a minute remaining proved crucial in Saturday's upset win, stretching the Irish lead to three -- it was their last field goal of the contest.

Junior Pat Connaughton: Coming off his most efficient overall game of the season, scoring 16 points (6 of 9 shooting including 2-2 from three-point land) while adding 8 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists vs. the Blue Devils…Has averaged better than 7 boards over the last five games.

Sophomore Zach Auguste: Earned his first career start Saturday after 12 points (on 5 of 7 shooting) with 8 boards in just 16 minutes during a December 29 overtime win over Canisius.

Sophomore Austin Burgett: Blocked season (team) high five shots in Saturday's win over the Blue Devils, adding five rebounds in 24 crucial minutes…Notre Dame outscored Duke by 11 points when Burgett was on the floor as the sophomore from Avon, Indiana produced one of the most dominant two-point performances in program history.

Freshman Steve Vasturia: Nailed a trio of three-point shots Saturday including what head coach Mike Brey referred to as "the shot of the game" that gave ND a 68-64 lead with just under five minutes remaining…Has produced 22 minutes off the bench in both of the last two games sans Grant.

5th-year senior Tom Knight: Playing time has decreased of late as the Irish moved to a smaller lineup but the 6'11" center should see more time tonight vs. the physical Wolfpack…3-5 from the floor with 6 boards over the last 16 minutes (two games).

Freshman V.J. Beachem: Played a career-high 27 minutes in a Dec. 29 win over Canisius then saw just six minutes of action vs. Duke…The true freshman small forward has struggled as a shooter off the bench, hitting just 5 of 20 field goal attempts including 2-11 from long range.

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