Syracuse Basketball: Win at Notre Dame is huge for Orange’s confidence

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports) /

Syracuse basketball picked up a massive confidence boost this weekend.

The Orange, suiting up at 6-1 Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon from the Purcell Pavilion, scored a 62-61 win over the Fighting Irish for the premier victory to date in the young 2022-23 season for the ‘Cuse.

Not only did the Orange snap a three-game slide with this triumph versus Notre Dame (6-2, 0-1), but Syracuse basketball also opened Atlantic Coast Conference competition on a positive note, won a road game against a good squad, and did wonders for the team’s confidence moving forward.

I wrote just a few days ago that the Orange was in a really bad spot, that the ‘Cuse was definitely not an NCAA Tournament-caliber group at this point in 2022-23, and that many fans were ready for head coach Jim Boeheim to retire as soon as possible, given the Orange’s 3-4 start.

To me, things look a little bit differently now for the ‘Cuse (4-4, 1-0), as the squad looks to build up some momentum from this strong result. Up next, the Orange will host Horizon League member Oakland on Tuesday, Dec. 6, with the tip-off scheduled for 6 pm and television coverage on the ACC Network.

Syracuse basketball notched a big-time win at Notre Dame on Saturday.

Now, I don’t want to get too over the top here in making any grand proclamations. At this juncture, even with this impressive outcome, the Orange still resides at 4-4.

Prior to the ‘Cuse squeaking by the Fighting Irish, Syracuse basketball got absolutely crushed on the road by Illinois in the final ACC-Big Ten Challenge contest for the Orange.

The ‘Cuse also has setbacks in 2022-23 to Bryant, St. John’s and Colgate.

At the same time, Notre Dame entered its home encounter with the Orange having just pounded No. 20 Michigan State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

So for the ‘Cuse to go on Notre Dame’s own turf and come away with a victory is massive. A layup by freshman point guard Judah Mintz with about 13 seconds left proved the deciding basket.

The Orange’s two senior starters won this game for the squad. Center Jesse Edwards played a clean game, recording no fouls while tallying 22 points and 16 rebounds.

Shooting guard Joe Girard III, who had nine combined points in the team’s three most recent losses, bounced back with 20 points, two boards, two steals and two assists.

Girard connected on 50 percent of his shots and did most of his damage inside the perimeter. In fact, the entire Orange roster did, hitting on 48.3 percent from the field but a paltry 16.7 percent from beyond the arc.

The ‘Cuse did get outrebounded, but Syracuse basketball only committed four turnovers. The Orange also held Notre Dame to 38.3 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from long range.

Off the bench, Syracuse basketball received solid contributions from redshirt junior big man John Bol Ajak and freshman wing Justin Taylor. Starting forwards Benny Williams, a sophomore, and Chris Bell, a freshman, didn’t do much, and neither earned a lot of time on the court as a result.

Central New York native J.J. Starling, a former Orange recruiting target and freshman guard for Notre Dame, struggled a tad from the field, finishing with seven points.

Mintz didn’t shoot great from the field, but he did collect nine points, including the game-winning shot, to go along with two rebounds, two assists and three steals.

It’s only one game, but this was a strong, strong win for Syracuse basketball on the road versus an ACC foe that just knocked off a top-20 team.

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