Orange move win streak to four in road win over Notre Dame

SU's win streak extends to four

Elijah Hughes pours in 26 points for the 84-82 win in South Bend
Published: January 22, 2020 | Updated: January 23rd, 2020 at 12:45 pm
Syracuse University vs. University of Virginia
SU guard Elijah Hughes, shown here on Jan. 11 against Virginia, scored 26 points including four three-pointers in the win over Notre Dame.

Strong Start for Hughes

Elijah Hughes started the game hot. The redshirt junior had a run of eight straight points for the Orange around the 16-minute mark. That early streak set the tone for Hughes’ highly productive game. Only Jordan Nwora of Louisville has scored more points per game than Hughes in the ACC this season.

He’s been a dynamic offensive player for the Orange for a few years, but now that Orange fans are beginning to see the consistency they knew they’d need this season.

Also coming into his own is freshman Joe Girard III. Girard snatched 9 rebounds to go along with 4 assists, and 15 points; a full stat-sheet for the point guard. Jim Boeheim has been relying on Girard more throughout the season and the extreme of that reliance was on display tonight. Girard played the entire 40 minutes.

Irish Struggle Defensively

Notre Dame has struggled in a season that’s included blowout losses to teams like Maryland and nail biters to Indiana and Louisville. Most of their success on both ends of the floor revolves around John Mooney: a 6’9″ forward with great feel around the rim and shot-blocking ability. In his team’s fight against the Orange, Mooney outperformed his season average for points by tallying 21 on a fairly efficient 8-17 shooting night. Mooney joined Hughes as the only other 20 point scorer in the game.

The Irish boasted four double-digit scorers, but Syracuse was able to find its spots on the offensive end while flustering the Irish offense just enough to get the job done on the road.

Loss Avenged. What’s next?

This win was huge for Jim Boeheim and his team. Losing to Notre Dame in this year’s ACC would have been a lost opportunity. The conference is exceedingly weak this year in comparison to years past; which doesn’t happen too often in the ACC. A couple of the classics are riding atop the conference: Duke, Louisville and Florida State. But there’s also a couple struggling teams that usually ride atop the conference as well.

North Carolina is having a historically bad year, and Virginia is a middle of the pack team, already losing to Syracuse this year. There’s a great opportunity to take over the fourth spot in the conference before postseason play begins. Virginia Tech and NC State are the two teams ahead of the Orange. With Hughes and Buddy Boeheim playing extremely well on offense, who knows? Maybe this Syracuse team is much better than preseason minds gave it credit for. The Orange face Pittsburgh next on Jan. 25th at Noon in the Carrier Dome.

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is a contributor to The NewsHouse at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.