Syracuse Basketball: Top takeaways as 'Cuse survives Notre Dame on Jim Boeheim Day

As Jim Boeheim was honored, Syracuse basketball coughed up a huge lead over Notre Dame but managed to hang on for a win.
As Jim Boeheim was honored, Syracuse basketball coughed up a huge lead over Notre Dame but managed to hang on for a win. / Rich Barnes/GettyImages

More than 25,000 fans packed the JMA Wireless Dome on Saturday afternoon as SU Athletics honored legendary Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim in what was deemed by the Syracuse basketball program as the largest on-campus crowd for a college hoops contest so far in the 2023-24 season.

It was a beautiful sight on the Hill, as tons of Syracuse basketball legends and former Orange stars were in attendance to show their support for Jim Boeheim, one of the all-time great head coaches in the history of the sport. Three Syracuse basketball four-star recruits between the 2025 and 2026 classes were also on unofficial visits to the 'Cuse this weekend.

Undeniably, emotions ran high, and the squad's Atlantic Coast Conference clash with Notre Dame turned from a blowout in the first half into a nail-bitter in the second 20 minutes.

I was nervous. A once boisterous Dome crowd was, too. The Orange looked dominant in the first half, building up a 29-point lead over the Fighting Irish, an ACC group that has played better in recent games.

Yet in the second half, Notre Dame, a team that often has struggled to score in 2023-24, put on an offensive clinic in tallying a whopping 54 points. The Fighting Irish nearly completed an epic comeback in what would have been a disastrous loss for Syracuse basketball on Jim Boeheim Day, but the 'Cuse (18-10, 9-8 in the ACC) managed to squeak out an 88-85 victory over Notre Dame (10-17, 5-11 in the ACC).

My key observations as Syracuse basketball defeats Notre Dame on Jim Boeheim Day.

•The Orange had a balanced scoring attack on Saturday afternoon, as all five starters reached double-figures, led by 21 points from sophomore point guard Judah Mintz.

•In an encouraging sign, sophomore wing Justin Taylor went 4-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe to finish with 10 points. That's terrific, because Taylor has struggled with his shooting by and large in 2023-24.

•After missing the last four games due to being in concussion protocol, sophomore center Peter Carey was available against the Fighting Irish, which was lovely. He only played five minutes, but Carey being able to play provides the 'Cuse with much-needed front-court depth.

•Sophomore forward Chris Bell tallied 18 points, including 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard J.J. Starling added 14 points, while sophomore big man Maliq Brown generated 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal.

•Sophomore wing Quadir Copeland registered seven points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Redshirt sophomore guard Kyle Cuffe Jr., in 14 minutes of action, had four points and one assist.

•Both teams shot the ball well. Syracuse basketball connected on 53 percent from the field, 44 percent from deep and 72 percent from the free-throw line, although in this encounter's waning moments, the Orange missed the front end of a pair of one-and-ones. That. Can't. Happen.

•Notre Dame hit on 62 percent from the field, 57 percent from long range and 75 percent from the free-throw line.

•In other statistical categories, the Fighting Irish led 30-25 in rebounding (ugh). On the flip side, Syracuse basketball led 17-16 in assists, 17-7 in turnovers forced, 11-10 in bench points, 4-0 in blocks, 13-8 in fast-break points, 10-4 in steals, 31-13 in points off turnovers, 50-38 in paint points, and 11-7 in second-chance points. Candidly, what enabled Notre Dame to nearly pull off a massive stunner over the 'Cuse is that the Fighting Irish made five more shots from beyond the arc.

•I figured that Notre Dame would go on a run in the second half. They were down 29 points shortly before halftime but went on a 9-0 run to close out the first 20 minutes and cut the deficit to 20 points. Credit the Fighting Irish for storming back, and I figured Saturday afternoon was an emotional game for the Orange, but the 'Cuse cannot let a sub-par opponent nearly win on the road after being down 29 points.

•Based on Notre Dame's current NCAA NET ranking of No. 142, this was a quadrant-three victory for the Orange. Syracuse basketball has won three in a row over the Fighting Irish, and the 'Cuse leads the all-time series, 34-23.

•The Orange has three regular-season games left before the ACC Tournament begins next month in Washington, D.C. Next up, the 'Cuse will play its final home contest of 2023-24 when Syracuse basketball hosts Virginia Tech beginning at 7 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 27, with television coverage on ESPNU.

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