Kris Joseph scored 18 points, and Rick Jackson added 12 points and a career-high six blocks as No. 5 Syracuse defeated No. 15 Notre Dame 70-58 on Saturday.
The game was close throughout the first half and remained so until midway through the second half when Syracuse (15-0, 2-0 Big East) broke the game open with a 17-3 run that gave the Orange a 61-47 lead with 7:48 left.
“We did a really good job defensively the whole game,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “The game turned on Ricky going inside and playing the five spot. He made some really big plays around the basket area that took it to another level.”
Notre Dame (12-2, 1-1) held Jackson to just four points and two rebounds in the first half. But after Jackson shifted to the center position, things changed quickly.
With 9:15 left and Syracuse up 58-47, Jackson took an entry pass on the right block and dribbled toward the baseline. Notre Dame’s defense collapsed as Jackson initially went up for a reverse layup but spotted Scoop Jardine open along the baseline.
Jardine (15 points, nine assists) drained the 3-pointer.
“You just have to stay patient and find shooters,” Jackson said. “It’s always tough when you’re being doubled.”
Despite the pressure, Jackson managed to find ways to score, adding eight second-half points.
“Rick controlled the middle,” Jardine said. “That allowed us to get out in the open court. I’ve said this before, but when we get out in the open court, I don’t think anyone can beat us.”
Tim Abromaitis led Notre Dame with 15, and Ben Hansbrough added 12 for the Irish, which shot just 42 percent from the field. Notre Dame had come into the game with the nation’s second-best offense, shooting 52 percent a game.
The Orange’s pesky defense also caused 15 Irish turnovers, three of which occurred during SU’s key run.
One of the three was from James Southerland, who scored seven of his 12 points during that run. The sophomore, who started out the year buried on SU’s bench, has now become a key contributor in Syracuse’s rotation.
“He started out shooting poorly, and we know he is a good shooter, so eventually he is going to come out and make shots,” Boeheim said. “He’s really come into his own.”
During the run, Southerland stole the ball from Scott Martin and fed Jardine in the open court. Jardine then found the streaking Southerland, who layed it in to give Syracuse a 50-44 lead. Southerland would add another layup and 3-pointer during that stretch.
“I tried to stay active on defense,” Southerland said. “Everything went really smooth.”
The same could be said for Joseph, who came into the game averaging 23.3 points over his last three games. The junior also added eight rebounds.
“Kris Joseph was great the whole game,” Boeheim said. “He is getting there and playing well, which is what we expect.”
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.
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