SYRACUSE Syracuse's men's basketball team suffered two straight setback losses on the road to Villanova and Pittsburgh before returning home to play Notre Dame last Monday night, still without James Southerland due to academic concerns and without Dajuan Coleman due to knee surgery.
At the Carrier Dome, the Orange, with its backs to the wall, stepped up in strong fashion defeating the Fighting Irish 63-47.
C.J. Fair had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman Jerami Grant scored a season-high 14 points as SU avoided falling out of the top 10 ranking while snapping its brief skid. The last time Syracuse lost three games in succession was back in 2010-11.
And the Orange's Dome win streak continued, to 36 in a row, longest in the nation. ND had won three straight games before falling to SU in front of 23,239 spectators.
“This was a big win,” said Hall of Fame SU head coach Jim Boeheim. “Obviously, Notre Dame beat us last year, When we lose two games in a row in this league, you get nervous. Everybody does. This is a real good bounce-back win.”
The Orange defense clamped down behind its front line of Fair, Grant and Rakeem Christmas. These players combined were responsible for 44 points, six blocks and 21 rebounds.
They also collectively teamed up to protect the interior and made it difficult for ND big man Jack Cooley to get opportunities to score. The 6-foot-9 center Cooley finished 10 points and 11 rebounds, but was generallyheld in check.
ND was held to a season-low total of 47 points. They shot 18 for 52 from the field goal range, including 6 for 20 from 3-point distance.
“Defense is going to take us far.” Christmas said. “If we play defense we will win games even if our offense is not there.”