Coming off an emotional win against No. 9 West Virginia, the Orange showed no signs of a letdown when they took on Notre Dame Monday night. Wesley Johnson scored 22 points while Andy Rautins poured in 21 as Syracuse completed a perfect road trip with an 84-71 victory over the Irish in South Bend.
Early on it was a shooters battle between Rautins and Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis. After redshirting last season, Abromaitis has seemingly come out of nowhere this year to average 15 points per game. He scored the first seven points for the Irish, including two threes. Notre Dame jumped out to a quick 7-5 lead, but this would be their last advantage of the game.
Not to be outdone, Rautins responded with two triples of his own. He would go on to hit 5-6 from beyond the arc in the first half, including nine straight points during one stretch for the Cuse.
The Orange, shooting 39 percent as a team from three point range this season, shot 7-11 from deep in the first half and hit on 54 percent of their shots overall during the first 20 minutes. Wes Johnson hit two from downtown as well on his way to 12 first half points.
Syracuse finished the half on a 16-9 run after the game was tied at 23 and took a 39-32 lead at the break.
With the start of the second half the Orange looked to work the ball inside to their big men, Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson. Besides Luke Harangody, the Irish lacked a second interior player that could help defend down low. As a result, Onuaku and Jackson had a hand in the first eight points of the half for Syracuse, either scoring themselves or passing the ball out of the post.
Onuaku finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, but more importantly he was 5-9 from the free throw line. The Orange converted on 24 of their 31 free throw attempts in the game compared to just 18 attemptes for the Irish.
While Harangody struggled to cover both Syracuse bigs defensively, he did show why he is the defending Big East Player of the Year on the offensive end. Working from the baseline against the Syracuse zone, he was the beneficiary of countless feeds around the rim from guard Tory Jackson (15 assists) and finished with a game-high 31 points and 14 rebounds.
Harangody and Abromaitis (26 points, 5-11 from 3-pt. range) attempted to keep the Irish in the game in the second half. An 8-1 run pulled Notre Dame within two at 55-53, but the Orange responded with a 6-0 run of their own.
In the end it was the balanced scoring for Syracuse that proved to be the difference. The Orange received 41 points from players other than Johnson and Rautins, but the Irish managed just 14 outside of Harangody and Abromaitis.
With the win Syracuse improves to 18-1 on the year and 5-1 in Big East play. The No. 5 Orange return home to take on Marquette at 2:00 on Saturday.
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