Notre Dame’s return to the Top 25 likely will have a short shelf life.
For Notre Dame’s sake, Demetrius Jackson’s absence from the lineup better be just as brief.
Playing without their leading scorer after he suffered a hamstring injury five days earlier, the Irish struggled with Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, going 5:43 without scoring after taking a 5-0 lead, and never cutting the lead to single digits again en route to a 81-66 loss in the Carrier Dome.
The loss ended Notre Dame’s four-game winning streak. It was Notre Dame’s fourth straight loss to Syracuse and seventh in eight games.
The Irish (14-6, 5-3) have now lost five straight against the Orange at the Carrier Dome. Notre Dame’s last win in Syracuse was a 103-91 victory on Jan. 20, 2007.
Syracuse (14-8, 4-5) raced to a 26-8 lead with 9:40 left in the first half. Notre Dame trailed by double digits over the final 32:23 and fell behind by as many as 26 in the second half.
The Irish, leading the nation in fewest turnovers per game at 9.2, had great difficulty avoiding miscues in Jackson’s absence. Notre Dame committed nine turnovers in the first half.
Trevor Cooney, who lit up Notre Dame for 33 points (and nine three-pointers) in the Carrier Dome two years ago, had 15 points by halftime and finished with 22 points.
Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem matched Cooney’s 22 points on 5-of-8 three-point shooting. But with Matt Ryan missing his first seven three-point attempts, the Irish quickly fell behind and trailed by 18-to-26 points over the final 13 minutes of the game.
Freshman Tyler Lydon, averaging 8.6 points per game, had 13 points by halftime on 3-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Syracuse converted 10-of-25 from beyond the arc while the Irish were a deceiving 10-of-24 with much of the damage after the fact. The Orange converted 15-of-16 free throws.
Vasturia was the only Irish player other than Beachem in double figures with 16 points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting. Zach Auguste had eight points and 10 rebounds, but was ineffective as Syracuse shot to a double-digit lead. Bonzie Colson scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Irish.
Lydon, Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson each tossed in 15 points for the Orange.
Notre Dame returns to action Sunday at Purcell Pavilion against Wake Forest. Five of the seven games after the home tilt versus the Demon Deacons will be on the road.