Syracuse will always play in close games, no matter the opponent or the situation. It is a characteristic that has defined this program for years and Tuesday’s trip to South Bend perfectly encompassed this trait. On Tuesday the close game ended in Syracuse’s favor as they beat No. 9 Notre Dame on the road, 65-60.
The Orange were able to hold one of the nation’s best offenses to just 22 points in the first half, the lowest total the Irish have posted in a first half this season. The halftime lead was built on the backs of Rakeem Christmas and B.J. Johnson.
Christmas continued his domination in the middle of the 2-3 zone snagging 8 rebounds in the first half. Johnson picked up where he left off against Pitt, scoring a team-high 19 points. Ron Patterson also did his part with great defense throughout much of the game, especially in the second half.
As the game entered the second half, it seemed that the Irish were going to claw their way back. Christmas picked up his fourth foul with over 14 minutes left in the game. Yet Coach Boeheim showed his confidence in the man who earned his 1,000th career point by leaving him on the floor.
This decision, though it raised eyebrows of the announcers and surely many fans, proved to be the right one for the Orange. A key moment in the game came with just over nine minutes to go.
The Irish were beginning to work their way back and Steve Vasturia drove inside on Christmas. It seemed that surely, Vasturia would score and/or draw Christmas’ fifth foul. However, the senior stood his ground and forced Vasturia into a wild lay-up. This defensive play seemed to spark something in the Orange.
When Christmas finally picked up his fifth foul with 5:18 to go, Trevor Cooney picked up the slack hitting two huge shots down the stretch, including a three from way beyond the arc.
Ultimately, the Orange were able to hold onto their lead and earn their biggest win of the season because of very solid foul shooting. Syracuse shot 69 percent (15-for-22) from the line and was able to seal the game in the final minute.
It was one of the best all around games the Orange have played in a long time. This time, unlike the Villanova, UNC and Duke games, the Orange played at a high level for 40 minutes and thoroughly deserved their biggest win of the season.
Posted: Logan Grossman