UK Men's Basketball

Notre Dame players excited for matchup with Kentucky

Notre Dame plans a "blackout" for its Thursday night game against visiting Kentucky. The key word is "plan."

To hear Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey on Tuesday, this game has been the subject of much planning.

"For a lot of people, it's our season opener," he said. "... It's going to be a fun night. A great atmosphere in our building."

Brey likened the expected atmosphere to Notre Dame's game against highly ranked Syracuse last season.

"For the players, it's one they talked about all summer."

As a precaution, Brey said he would talk to his players about not getting too eager to play the game.

"Sometimes we play too fast on offense when we've gotten a little too excited," he said.

The Notre Dame coach noted his team's experience. All five starters return from last season. So the Irish have played in big-game atmospheres.

"This team really learned last year," he said. "Really our program learned the last three years how to better control tempo from the offensive side. These guys ... really understand if we don't have it in transition, to be patient at the offensive end. Sometimes when the atmosphere is really rocking, we shoot it a little quick just because we're excited."

Notre Dame brings several home winning streaks into the game. The Irish have won 23 straight home games against non-conference opponents. Brey has a 45-0 record as Notre Dame coach in home games played in November.

Point guard Eric Atkins acknowledged how the Irish have long anticipated this particular game.

"I think everybody has marked this game on the schedule ever since we knew about it," he said. "Probably everyone's family is coming out."

Brey spoke of the game serving as a metaphorical springboard.

"It would be great for this group's confidence moving forward," he said. "It really would make them believe. ... It'd be a great help for us psychologically."

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