Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is similar to any coach — lose 2 of meeting games and it is time to start to look for those worry beads.
No need to search any more.
C.J. Fair had 18 points and 10 rebounds, freshman Jerami Grant scored a season-high 14 points, and No. 9 Syracuse beat No. 25 Notre dame 63-47 on Monday night to snap a 2-game losing streak that had dropped the Orange 3 spots in the rankings.
“This was a huge win,” Boeheim related. “Obviously, Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat us last year. When you lose 2 games in a row in this league, you get frightened. Everyone does. This is a genuine good bounce-back win.”
Orange(19-3, 7-2 Big East), which was coming off consecutive road losses against Villanova Wildcats and Pittsburgh, has only 3 meeting losses in its past 32 Big East games and has won a school-record 36 straight games at home, the longest active streak in Division I. Notre Dame ( 18-5, 6-4 ) had won 3 straight.
It was actually the 1st meeting between the teams since the Irish handed Syracuse its only conference loss last season, 67-58 at Purcell Pavilion last January. The Orange, unbeaten at the time and ranked No. 1, were missing shot-blocking, 7-foot center Fab Melo in that game because of an academic issue, and on Monday night senior James Southerland, the team’s most consistent outside threat and 3rd-leading scorer, missed his 6th straight game because of an eligibility matter related to academics.
Gone, as well, from the Orange lineup was 6-foot-9, 288-pound freshman forward Dajuan Coleman, out for a month after knee surgery. Las Vegas odds
On this night, it didn’t matter as the Syracuse defense clamped down behind its front line of Fair, Grant and Rakeem Yuletide, who mixed for 44 points, 6 blocks, and 21 rebounds. They also teamed to help limit the touches of Notre Dame big man Jack Cooley in the middle and the Orange’s perimeter defenders held their own against the Irish sharpshooters.
The 6-foot-9, 246-pound Cooley, a major force as the Irish outrebounded the Orange by 13 in last year’s game, finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, his 15th double-double of the season.
Notre dame finished 6 of 20 on 3-pointers, shot 34.6% (18 of 52) for the game, and was outrebounded 32-28. The Irish also matched their season low for points. They also were held to 47 in a home loss 2 weeks ago to Georgetown.
“We’ve got to make some more of those shots to escape here,” Notre Dame Fighting Irish Coach Mike Brey declared. “When we have had success against them, we’ve made more 3s. But that isn’t necessarily us missing. They have such length because their guards are so big this year. They come out and close out. It’s a rough shot.
“We battled, we fought, and we tried. But we needed to get into a better scoring rhythm. It was hard against them tonight thanks to the way they defended.”
Syracuse entered the game limiting opponents to 32.3 percent shooting on 3-pointers while Notre Dame was hitting 39.6 percent from behind the arc. Biedscheid finished 1 of 8 from behind the arc.