A quick take on Syracuse’s 72-62 win over Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.:
WHAT HAPPENED: A pair of DJ Harvey free throws cut Syracuse’s lead to 60-58 with 6:17 to go. From there, Syracuse went on a 7-0 run capped by a pretty step-back jumper from Tyus Battle to make it 67-58 with 2:25 left. A 3-pointer from Frank Howard with 57 seconds left put the Orange up 70-59, and put the game out of reach. The Orange had to overcome an early 10-point deficit. A dunk from John Mooney had the Irish up 20-10 with 13:00 in the first half, but a key substitution from Jim Boeheim, bringing in freshman Jalen Carey was the impetus to the Orange eventually going into intermission down just 38-37.
ANALYSIS: If Syracuse does not want to be sweating on Selection Sunday, these are the kinds of games it will need to win. Starting ACC play, the Orange has Notre Dame (a win) and two more winnable games at home against Clemson and George Tech. A 3-0 start in conference would give the Orange momentum heading into a tough matchup against Duke on Jan. 14. In order to do so, it will need more games like Saturday, when the Orange shot 41.2 percent from the field and 12-29 from downtown. Its offense, which looked stagnant in losses against Old Dominion and Buffalo appears to have found its groove. Defensively, the 2-3 zone was mostly effective, holding everyone not named TJ Gibbs or Mooney to 30 points. As a whole, the Irish shot just 34.5 percent from the field.
HERO: Syracuse’s ‘Big 3’ of Elijah Hughes, Oshae Brissett and Tyus Battle combined for 57 points. Hughes had a game-high and career-high 22 points on 6-13 shooting from beyond the arc. Gibbs led Notre Dame with 18.
ZERO: The foul discrepancy was glaring for much of the game before Notre Dame was forced to foul to stop the clock. Syracuse did not attempt its first free throws of the game until Brissett made a pair with 4:13 left. By then, Notre Dame had already attempted 17 free throws for a 17 to 5 advantage. Marek Dolezaj and Paschal Chukwu both fouled out.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to play Clemson on Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. TV: ACC Network.