Syracuse 12-4 (1-2) dropped their second straight ACC game in devastating fashion to Notre Dame 13-3 (3-0). The Orange carried a 9 point lead into the second half but the Irish fought back and stole a 51-49 win as Rex Pflueger (pictured below) made a put back lay in off of a Syracuse turnover with 3 seconds left.Embed from Getty Images
Why Syracuse lost
Syracuse failed to capitalize on a terrible Notre Dame first half when the Irish shot only 21.4% from the field. The Orange had even worse offensive struggles as they put forward their worse scoring output of the year with 49 points.
The Orange only led by 9 points at the half due in part to Notre Dame dominating the offensive glass. The Irish continued to crush Syracuse on the boards in the second half and finished the game with 21 offensive rebounds and 42 total rebounds.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim weighed in, “Notre Dame got physical with us. Our inside guys are thin. And they just pounded us on the boards.” Later in his press conference he said, “We’re not a good rebounding team. That was a myth.”
Senior forward Martinas Geben (pictured below) finished with 14 rebounds.
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Notre Dame found it’s groove against the Syracuse zone in the second half behind great interior passing from its guards. The Irish big men constantly got behind Syracuse’s back line for easy lay-ins or they would get fouled and be rewarded with free throws.
With the exception of Tyus Battle’s drive for two points with under 1:30 to play and his three pointer with 47 seconds to tie the game, the Orange struggled mightily when it counted most. Frank Howard (pictured below) turned it over twice in a 30 second span and Battle committed the most crucial turnover that led to the Pflueger’s winning lay-in.Embed from Getty Images
Syracuse started the game hot with a 7-0 run lead by Battle and Oshae Brissett (pictured below) to take a 7-1 lead. Notre Dame started the game 1-14 from the field and 0-5 from the three-point line.Embed from Getty Images
The Irish’s rebounding kept them in the game early as they collected 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.
Brissett for the most part played well in the first half. He collected 10 rebounds and made 2 three pointers but he also committed 4 turnovers that held the Orange back from extending their early lead.
TJ Gibbs came up huge for Notre Dame in the first 20 minutes. He scored 14 of the Irish’s 19 points. The rest of the team shot 1-19 in the first half.
Of note, Marek Dolezaj missed two wide open jumpers from middle of the Notre Dame zone. Syracuse needs to find someone who can hit that shot consistently. Dolezaj and Brissett are not capable of being that person right now.
Syracuse shot well from three-point range (5-8) in the first half and Battle, Brissett and Howard combined for 24 points to give Syracuse a 28-19 lead going into halftime.
Notre Dame started the second half in a man defense and quickly went on 8-0 run to cut lead to 28-27.
The entire second half had a different feel to it as the Irish focused on picking up the pace of the game and started to effectively attack Syracuse’s zone. Notre Dame easily exploited the back line of the Orange’s zone which led to some easy buckets for Geben and John Mooney.
The Irish continued to dominate the offensive glass throughout the second half and finished the game with 21 offensive boards and 42 total rebounds.
Sidibe checked in with 9:50 to go as Syracuse clung to a 38-34 lead. He contributed well with 4 points, 2 rebounds and a big block as Syracuse clung to a 1 point lead with less than 3 minutes left. He stayed on the court for the rest of the game in place of Paschal Chukwu.
Howard played poorly during the final minutes of the game which really hurt the Orange. He was called for a charge with 2:54 remaining and went on to turn it over on the next possession as well. He then missed a pull up jumper with Syracuse down 1.
Battle hit his huge 3 pointer with 47 seconds left to tie the game at 49 and then grabbed a big steal on the other end. He unfortunately turned it over with the clock winding down which led to a Notre Dame break away and the Rex Pflueger put back lay-in for the win. Of note, Howard stopped running back on defense on the play and could have potentially stopped Pflueger’s put back if he ran back on defense.
Losing to the Irish really hurts Syracuse as it drops them to 1-2 in the ACC. The Orange have a tough schedule coming up as they play at #8 Virginia on Tuesday and at #24 Florida State on Saturday. Syracuse could fall to 1-4 in the conference if they aren’t careful. It’ll be critical for the Orange to steal one of these games on the road.Embed from Getty Images