Syracuse, with struggles on defense, is unable to break its fall

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Syracuse is still winless on the road

Saturday afternoon, Syracuse opened the game with a bucket, but they were quickly dragged under and eventually overwhelmed at #15 Notre Dame, 84-66. The Irish (17-3, 5-1 ACC) answered that opening score with a 12-2 run, the first or four significant runs they hung on the Orange (11-9, 3-4). SU was only able to pull within seven points in the opening minute of the second half, but were quickly put to bed.

The Notre Dame offense clicked on all cylinders in the game, making just under 50 percent of their shots, including hitting over 42 percent on three-pointers, and drained 15-of-16 from the free throw line. Syracuse had a much more difficult time, missing several lay-ups and other shots from in close, finishing with a 41.8 percent success rate from the field. In spite of being a worse rebounding team than SU in conference play, the Irish also owned a 39-28 rebounding advantage.

After Tyler Lydon opened the game with a nice post move for a score, Notre Dame rang up a 12-2 run for a 12-4 lead before the game was four minutes old. Shortly after, the Orange defense tightened up some, holding the Irish without a score for nearly four-and-a-half minutes, but the offense still could not do much, only getting back within 14-10.

The two squads traded scores for a couple minutes, but a quick 8-0 ND run opened up their lead to a dozen. Consecutive Irish three-pointers capped the run and made it a 26-14 game with just under eight minutes left in the opening half.

SU would hold serve for a couple minutes, but the Irish would open their lead to 15 points with under three minutes left in the half. The Syracuse offense responded this time, closing the half on an 8-2 run.

Andrew White III started the streak by popping to the top of the key for a three-pointer. After a pair of foul shots for ND, Lydon struck back with a pair of his own. White III then swished another three-ball, this one from the left wing, to bring the Orange within 41-32 at the break.

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SU cut the gap to seven when John Gillon found Lydon for a two-handed dunk on the first possession of the second half, but, just as they did in the first half, the Irish went on a run to grab control. This time, Notre Dame posted nine straight points to trigger a 13-3 streak for a 54-37 lead less than six minutes into the half.

After each team scored a deuce, the Orange posted a half dozen straight points to try to get back into the game. Tyus Battle drove the lane for a score to start the mini-run and Lydon followed up with a pair of foul shots and a swished 17-footer off the left elbow, bringing SU within 56-45.

Notre Dame responded by scoring on their next four possessions for a 63-45 lead just before the midpoint of the half, effectively ending the game.

SU scored the next two baskets to get within 14 points, but never got closer. The Irish kept up the heat, eventually leading by as many as 22 points before the final horn.

For the second straight game, Tyler Lydon led the Orange in scoring, this time posting a 24-point, ten-rebound double-double. Tyus Battle had 17 points to go with his three steals while Andrew White III added 16 points, burying three triples on the way to that mark.

V.J. Beachem had his way with the Syracuse defense, rolling up a career-high 30 points on the day, including burying 6-of-10 three-pointers. Matt Farrell fell just shy of a double-double with 15 points and nine assists, but Bonzie Colson made it there, logging 14 points and 14 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action. Steve Vasturia chipped in with 11 points.

The Orange return to the Carrier Dome for a two-game homestand, starting off with Wake Forest on Tuesday evening. The Demon Deacons (12-7, 3-4) notched their first ACC road win in three years on Saturday, knocking off North Carolina State.

John Collins is the top performer for Wake, posting seven double-doubles on the season and averaging 16.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Bryant Crawford, who averages 14.7 points and 5.9 assists per game, is one of five Demon Deacons who averages over one three-point field goal per game.

Tip is set for 8:00pm eastern and the game will be televised regionally by the ACC Network, as well as streamed online at ESPN3.com.

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Jim Stechschulte

About Jim Stechschulte

A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.
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