A quick take on Syracuse’s exhilarating 75-67 comeback win against Notre Dame, on a wintery late February Saturday afternoon outside the Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: In a game that was originally scheduled for December 22, and playing for the first time in a week, Syracuse (13-6, 7-5) came out a step slow against the Irish, but were a completely different team over the game’s final 10:00. Down 46-32 at the half, SU saw ND open up a 20-point lead with 16:39 to play, before shifting into a different gear. The Orange went on an incredible 40-to-12 run to come all the way back, and save legitimate hopes of making the NCAA Tournament with three regular season games left to play. Buddy Boeheim was simply marvelous leading the come-from-way-behind victory, finishing with a career-high 29 points, dominating the floor in the second half, shooting 10-of-19 from the outside with six big treys. Winning its sixth game over the last eight, Syracuse is playing its best basketball at the right time of the year, something that has been a mark of most Jim Boeheim coached teams.
ANALYSIS: It may wind up as being the season-defining victory, in what has been a most unusual COVID start-and-stop campaign. The Orange’s second half comeback was a combination of the shots starting to fall, turning up the defensive pressure on the Notre Dame shooters, and winning the battle of the boards. The Syracuse lineup that went on the incredible run was minus starters Alan Griffin and Joe Girard (each scoring just five points), as Kadary Richmond (six points) steadily ran the point and Robert Braswell (a three-pointer and five rebounds), made off-the-bench contributions. Marek Dolezaj was also instrumental in sealing the late lead, finishing with 18 points (6-for-6 on the line), six rebounds and four assists, while Quincy Guerrier roared in the comeback grabbing 14 rebounds (5 offensive/9 defensive).
HERO: In a performance that almost resembled the great Pete Maravich doing it all for his father Press the LSU coach in the late 1960s, but minus the famous ‘Pistol Pete’ floppy socks, Buddy Boeheim wowed his father Jim and the rest of his teammates with the career-best scoring performance. Calling for the ball and hoisting up shots with supreme confidence, Buddy finished 53 percent from the field, and 60 percent from beyond the arc. He added three steals to his stat line, two of which came during the huge second half run teamed with Richmond to form an imposing duo at the top of the zone.
ZERO: It certainly looked like Notre Dame (9-11, 6-8) was headed to its third straight win over the Orange in Syracuse, before succumbing to the SU defensive pressure which changed the pace of the game in the second half. The Irish became the team a step slow over the final 10:00, and shots that came easy in the first half suddenly went awry. The Irish were outrebounded in the end 36-to-31, had 10 turnovers, and had the brakes put on their early success in the transition game by a more aggressive, and tall and lanky SU defense.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to Duke Monday night, Feb. 22, for the renewal of a rivalry that has intensified during the Orange’s eight year run in the ACC. What will be different about this meeting at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham? It will be a lot quieter with no ‘Crazies’ in attendance. SU has won twice on the Blue Devils home floor in 2015, and the last time they played there in 2019. Before meeting the ‘Cuse, Duke (9-8, 7-6) had a big home game Saturday night against No. 7/8 Virginia. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN.