St. John's-Notre Dame Preview
Cooley and his fellow seniors will play their final home game as the No. 24 Fighting Irish look to end a three-game losing streak to the Red Storm on Tuesday night.
Notre Dame (22-7, 10-6 Big East) fell 72-64 at then-No. 22 Marquette on Saturday. Cooley failed to score for the first time in 57 games as he was limited to 15 minutes due to the flu. He grabbed one rebound after entering the contest averaging a conference-best 11.0.
"That's our horse inside," point guard Eric Atkins said. "Today, he wasn't there for us so it made it a little different."
Coach Mike Brey second-guessed himself for using Cooley after the big man didn't practice the two previous days and was on an IV.
"In the second half, I just said forget it, let's get him home and get him ready for Tuesday," Brey said.
Cooley should be motivated for his final home game on what figures to be an emotional night since sixth-year forward Scott Martin will also be honored. Martin has been shut down indefinitely since Jan. 21 due to his recurring knee problems.
The Fighting Irish's woes against St. John's (16-12, 8-8) extended with a 67-63 defeat Jan. 15, with all the losses coming on the road.
The Red Storm figure to be an easier opponent Tuesday as losers of four of five. D'Angelo Harrison, averaging 17.8 points to rank among the conference's leaders, was suspended for the rest of the season Friday by coach Steve Lavin.
St. John's fought gamely in its first contest without Harrison, falling 62-59 at Providence on Saturday. Freshman Jakarr Sampson scored a season-high 22 points in the Red Storm's fourth straight road loss.
Lavin said that his team's struggles Saturday were also a result of Phil Greene IV's fight with a knee injury and Jamal Branch's cramp. That starting backcourt combined for 12 points on 5-of-24 shooting.
St. John's, shooting a Big East-low 28.9 percent on 3-pointers, made 1 of 11.
"We've been awful from the 3-point line, so that's not new," Lavin said.
If there's optimism for the Red Storm it's that Harrison was held to eight points when these teams met in January. Sampson scored a team-high 17 points and Greene added 11.
Cooley got into foul trouble and scored 10 points in 18 minutes for his lowest total before Saturday. Atkins scored a team-high 21.
Lavin will hope for something similar to his club's 36-32 edge on the glass in that contest after the Red Storm were outrebounded 46-38 on Saturday.
"To win on someone else's home court against a hot team, you can't be outrebounded by (that much)," Lavin said.
The Fighting Irish are tied for fifth place with No. 17 Syracuse. Those teams are one-half game behind No. 20 Pittsburgh, and the top four teams receive double-byes in the conference tournament.
Notre Dame has taken six of the last seven home meetings.