Syracuse Edged by Notre Dame
Syracuse was unable to rebound from a bad loss to Wake Forest on Wednesday and lost an ugly 51-49 game to the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who were playing without their two best players, Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell.
With the Fighting Irish leading 49-46 with 49 seconds remaining, Tyus Battle nailed a three to tie the game. Following a steal on the defensive end, Battle was stripped of the ball with 5 seconds to go. TJ Gibbs missed a contested layup in transition, but Rex Pflueger tipped in the put back with 2 seconds left. Frank Howard’s half court heave came up short and Notre Dame held on to win 51-49.
Syracuse held Notre Dame to 20.7% shooting in the first half, but 8 early turnovers by the Orange, who shot 50% in the opening stanza, allowed them to build only a 28-19 advantage at the break. Syracuse shot just 30.8% over the final 20 minutes. Notre Dame used an 8-0 run early in the second half to get themselves back in the game, which put them in a position to steal the win away from the Orange.
Notre Dame outrebounded Syracuse 42-27, including 21-8 on the offensive glass, an astounding stat, given that the Orange rank 10th in the nation in rebounding margin. This is the second game in a row where Syracuse was outrebounded. Jim Boeheim had this to say in the postgame press conference regarding his team’s effort on the boards. “This was the first game where someone really got physical on the boards with us and we could not rebound,” Boeheim said. “We’re not a good rebounding team. That was a myth, complete myth. Noboby’s really gone to the boards, except for the last two games, and when they did we cannot rebound down there.”
Gibbs led the Fighting Irish with 18 points, while Pflueger added 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Battle led the Orange with 21 points, while Howard turned in a performance of 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. Oshae Brissett recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Paschal Chukwu picked up his fourth foul with 10 minutes to go. Bourama Sidibe played the rest of the game in Chukwu’s absence. In doing so, Sidibe played in his 12th game of the season making him no longer eligible for a medical redshirt this season. Sidibe finished with 4 points, 2 rebounds, and a block in just 10 minutes of action.
With the loss, Syracuse falls to 12-4 on the season and 1-2 in conference play.
Syracuse clearly struggling offensively and solving that problem will not get any easier as the Orange are set to take on #8 Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, VA on Tuesday, January 9 at 8pm. The Cavaliers have the best defense in the country, holding opponents to just 52.7 points per game. Virginia is 12-1 overall, 3-0 in the ACC and is coming off a convincing 61-49 win over North Carolina on Saturday. The Cavaliers are led by sophomore guard Kyle Guy who is averaging 14.9 points per contest. Syracuse won the lone meeting between the two teams last year, 66-62, in the Carrier Dome.