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Notre Dame

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    Notre Dame’s defense may have reached the breaking point when it comes to injuries, with Irish coach Brian Kelly referring to the unit as “devastated.”The latest downer:
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    This time, Brian Kelly didn’t call it a debacle or second-guess one of his decisions, even as the roughest stretch of his tenure as Notre Dame’s coach got a little bit rougher.
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College basketball preview: Notre Dame vs. St. John’s

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend

Records: No. 24 Notre Dame 22-7, 10-6 Big East; St. John’s 16-12, 8-8

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 1480 AM, 106.7 FM

Notre Dame leaders: Jack Cooley (13.9 ppg); Cooley (10.6 rpg); Eric Atkins (6 apg)

St. John’s leaders: Harrison D’Angelo (17.8 pgg); JaKarr Sampson (6.6 rpg); Phil Greene IV (2.8 apg)

Key matchup: If Cooley, Notre Dame’s 6-foot-9 senior, is recovered from flu-like symptoms that limited him to 15 minutes and one rebound in the Irish’s 72-64 loss at Marquette on Saturday, tonight’s game will feature two of the top forwards in the Big East. Cooley is the only player in the conference averaging a double-double and leads the league in rebounding. Sampson, a 6-8 freshman, is the Red Storm’s second leading scorer, averaging 15 points, and he ranks 12th in the league in rebounding.

The skinny: Notre Dame closes its regular-season home schedule tonight and is battling Pittsburgh (23-7, 11-6) and Syracuse (22-7, 10-6) for the final double-bye in the Big East tournament, which runs March 12-16 at Madison Square Garden. … The Irish lost their first game against St. John’s 67-63 in Madison Square Garden on Jan. 15. … St. John’s leads the Big East in blocked shots with 7.3 per game.

tkrausz@jg.net

– Tony Krausz, The Journal Gazette

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