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Notre Dame looking to avoid series sweep at Syracuse

Dec 27, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey talks to guard JJ Starling (1) in the first half against the Jacksonville Dolphins at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse is coming off a notable performance. Notre Dame finally won an Atlantic Coast Conference game.

One team will end up with consecutive victories when they meet Saturday night in Syracuse, N.Y.

Syracuse (11-6, 4-2 ACC) has a chance to stay in the upper part of the league standings if it can pull off a season sweep of the Irish. Yet it hasn’t been smooth for the Orange along the way.

“We’ve got to get a lot better,” coach Jim Boeheim said. “We’re a long ways away.”

Notre Dame (9-8, 1-5) snapped a three-game losing streak by winning 73-72 in overtime earlier this week at home vs. Georgia Tech.

“We’ve still got 14 more games to prove it and get back on track a little bit,” Notre Dame guard Dane Goodwin said. “We have the ability to do it.”

Syracuse won 62-61 on Dec. 3 at Notre Dame. The Irish are 3-6 since that outcome.

The Orange is coming off perhaps one of its best games of the season with an 82-72 home victory against Virginia Tech on Wednesday night. Syracuse senior guard Joe Girard poured in 24 points for his 10th game in a row with a double-figure point total.

“One of the best games I’ve seen him play here,” Boeheim said. “He has been able to get his own shot.”

After defending the 3-point line well at times against Virginia Tech, it’s something the Orange will try to repeat against Notre Dame’s potent perimeter attack.

“They’ve got really great shooters,” Girard said. “A lot of guys who can space the floor and break down a zone. It was a tough game for us last time. Throughout my time here, they’ve actually played us really tough here in the dome.”

Notre Dame has milestones worth monitoring. It will be coach Mike Brey’s 900th game (580-319 career record) as a college head coach. Senior Cormac Ryan has 981 career points, while freshman guard JJ Starling, who’s from the Syracuse suburb of Baldwinsville, essentially returns home. Starling has scored in double figures in eight of the last nine games, though he was out of the starting lineup for the first time in the Georgia Tech game.

“JJ is getting better and more comfortable in a good rhythm,” Brey said. “He has improved defensively. He’s moving the ball and playing. I’m excited about where he’s at.”

–Field Level Media