Syracuse Clamps Down Defensively on Notre Dame, Ends 2-Game Skid

Steve AugerAnalyst IIFebruary 5, 2013

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 4: C.J. Fair #5 of the Syracuse Orange takes the ball down the court against Cameron Biedscheid #1 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the game at the Carrier Dome on February 4, 2013 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images)
Nate Shron/Getty Images

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim wasn’t wearing ruby red slippers as he patrolled the sidelines on Monday night, but when the final horn sounded; the Hall-of-Fame coach must’ve been agreeing that there is no place like home.

The No. 9-ranked Syracuse Orange, coming off back-to-back road losses, returned to the Carrier Dome last night and emerged with a 63-47 victory over the No. 25-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

The game pitted Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone versus Notre Dame’s arsenal of three-point shooters.

To knock off Syracuse, the Irish had to find the necessary gaps in the zone and rain down an onslaught of triples against the defense that has come to define Boeheim and Syracuse.

Unfortunately for Notre Dame, Monday night didn’t go exactly according to plan, as Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton and Cameron Biedscheid shot a combined 6-20 from beyond the arc.  Biedscheid had an especially miserable evening, as he sank only one of his eight attempts.

One area Notre Dame hoped to exploit was in the low-post.  Jack Cooley averages 15 PPG and leads the Big East in rebounding with 11 per contest. Cooley did get his average in rebounds but scored just 10 points and took only eight shots.

With DaJuan Coleman out after knee surgery and Baye Keita only logging four minutes,
Rakeem Christmas stepped up big for Syracuse. The sophomore more than held his own against Cooley.

Christmas scored 12 points on an efficient six-of-nine from the floor, grabbed five boards—three on the offensive end—and blocked four shots while playing 36 minutes.

C.J. Fair led the Orange with 18 points and was one of three players to score in double figures.  The junior forward also notched a double-double by collecting 10 rebounds.

The most fascinating aspect of the game was the first Big East meeting of the Grant brothers.  Jerami started at forward for Syracuse while Jerian is a guard for the Irish. The matchup didn’t disappoint.

Jerian led Notre Dame with 15 points while handing out five assists.  Younger brother Jerami scored a career-high 14 points, snatched six rebounds; all on the defensive end.

With the win, Syracuse ran its home winning streak to 36 games, which is currently the longest in the nation.  The Orange also moved a half-game ahead of Marquette for first place in the league.