Preview: Syracuse

A look at today's matchup between the No. 15 Irish and No. 4 Orange at the Carrier Dome.

No. 15 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Syracuse

Records: Notre Dame (12-1) vs. Syracuse (14-0). The lone defeat for the Irish was to current No. 12 Kentucky in Louisville, 72-58 on December 8.

Tip-off: 3:30 ESPNU

Previous Meeting: January 18, 2010: No. 5 Syracuse defeated Notre Dame 84 Notre Dame 71. A blistering first-half shooting effort by swingman Andy Rautins and superior athletes inside proved too much for the Luke Harangody-led Irish. The senior scored 31 points and collected 14 boards in the 13-point loss. Tim Abromaitis added 26 points but no other Irish player chipped in more than nine in the loss.

Series history: Syracuse leads the Irish 23 to 18 despite a minimal 10-9 edge at the Carrier Dome. Notre Dame lost its last trip to upstate New York, 93-74 in January 2009.

Quality Wins: Notre Dame (Georgia, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, #9 Georgetown); Syracuse (Michigan, Georgia Tech, NC State, #8 Michigan State, Drexel, Providence)

Quote to Note: "They played like men for 40 (minutes)…we probably played like men for 32." – Irish head coach Mike Brey following last season's 13-point home loss to the talented Orange.

Point Spread: Syracuse -7

Notre Dame Starters and Key Contributors

  • Forward: 6'8" 218-pound senior Carleton Scott: Finished 0-6 from the field vs. Georgetown including misses on all four of his shots from long range. Scott had hit on 18 of his previous 24 shots including 9 of 13 from beyond the arc over a three-game span…Had scored in double figures in 12 prior contests though chipped in with 7 boards, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 37 minutes of quality defense vs. the Hoyas…Leads the squad with 25 blocked shots, boasts a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (including 15 assists and 3 turnovers in his last three outings), and has connected on 30 of 34 free throws to date.

  • Forward: 6'8" 235-pound senior Tim Abromaitis: Team's leading scorer (16.4), rebounder (7.8) and second in three-point percentage (hitting 38 percent of his 76 offerings) while averaging the most minutes of any Irish player (over 33 per night)…Has scored 20 points in four straight after a disappointing 4-point effort in the December 8 loss to Kentucky…Connected on 14 of last 25 three-point shots and 26 of 50 field goals overall in a four-game span…

  • Forward: 6'8" 232-pound senior Tyrone Nash: The straw that stirs the drink for the Irish half-court offense…Versatile passer from the low block helps facilitate the team's inside-out attack and has developed a knack for drawing fouls in the post with 88 free throw attempts in 13 games…Pulled down 10 boards vs. Georgetown but needs that effort on a more consistent basis; six offensive boards vs. Hoyas matched a season-high.

  • Guard/Forward: 6'8" 219-pound senior Scott Martin: Rounding into form of late, hitting 18 of his last 31 shots over a four-game span including a judicious 5 of 7 from long range…Solid shooting percentages of 47.8 (FG) and 36.4 (3pt) after an extremely slow start but still struggling from the free throw line, hitting just 19 off 33 to date from the charity stripe.

  • Guard: 6'3" 203-pound senior Ben Hansbrough: Posted seven straight double digit outings despite a mild shooting slump (28 of 68) over that seven-game span…Has hit 29 of his last 34 free throw attempts including a 10-10 effort in Wednesday's win over Georgetown…Just 4 of his last 16 from beyond the arc after drilling 10 of his previous 16 long-range offerings.

Key Reserves:

  • Guard: 6'2" 173-pound freshman Eric Atkins: Developing sixth-man and point guard affords Hansbrough a chance to play off the ball…Has 22 assists vs. just 7 turnovers in his last seven outings...Hasn't visited the free throw line over the last three contests and attempting 10 (hitting 5) vs. Gonzaga on December 11…Contributes on the glass with 21 boards in his last five games.

  • Center/Forward: 6'9" 244-pound sophomore Jack Cooley: – Contributes invaluable 4 points and 3 boards in 10 minutes off the bench per night…Brings energy, hustle, court sense for a still-developing sophomore and a defensive presence on the glass and low block…Ranks as the team's most improved player since last season.

Meet the Orange


That's the M.O. for Jim Boeheim's Orange in the modern era. Gone over the last two seasons are Johnny Flynn, Paul Harris, Arinze Onuwaku, Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins. No matter, new stars Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche and Rich Jackson remain. Budding talents Fab Melo and Dion Waiters wait in the wings.

A perfect non-conference record was keyed by the play of Joseph, the team's leading scorer (14.8 points) and second-best board man (5.1). The lanky junior poured in 52 points and 12 boards in two recent wins over solid foes Drexel and Providence – the latter the teams' Big East opener.

Back for his final season in the post is senior bull Rich Jackson, heading the board attack with 12.2 per contest, best in the conference. Jackson ranks third on the squad with 13.6 points per game – more important – his 6'9" 240-pound frame provides the ideal anchor for the team's patented 2-3 zone defense. Jackson has hit better than 57 percent of his field goal attempts over the last three seasons and less than 53 percent from the charity stripe over the same span.

Scoop Jardine mans the point, averaging 6 assists and nearly 14 points per contest with nearly a 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Sophomore shooting guard Brandon Triche has been solid over the last five contests, posting 62 points and 21 assists with just 8 turnovers.

The Orange will generally feature an 8-to-9-man rotation with freshmen Baye Moussa Keita, Dion Waiters and Fab Melo rounding out the attack. Sophomore forward James Southerland has emerged of late, earning more than 20 minutes of court time in three of the last four contests.

Zone busters: Though not as well-rounded as last year's squad, Syracuse remains among the nation's best – and hardest to score upon due to the length of its 2-3 zone defense. With more than nine steals and six blocks per game (both second in the Big East), the Orange will test Notre Dame's patience in half-court sets and – more important – their ability to finish at or near the rim.

A few early threes by four capable shooters would help stress the Orange zone, but over-reliance on three-point shots has rarely spelled doom vs. Boeheim's crew.

Consistently finding a whole near the free throw line to facilitate a second pass and open shot, does.

The Irish have the length and experience to survive and compete in the Carrier Dome – but they have to prove they can finish vs. a top tier road team, too.

Prediction: Syracuse 70 Notre Dame 62 Top Stories