SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - After Wednesday’s 84-82 comeback victory at Notre Dame, Syracuse has won all three of its rematch games against teams it lost to earlier this season, and the last two of those paybacks have come on the road.
Forget about it actually having anything to do with revenge, though, according to Orange coach Jim Boeheim.
“That doesn’t win any games for you,” the second-winningest coach in NCAA Division I men’s history said after his team’s fourth straight victory overall. “It doesn’t work that way. You gotta go out and play. Everybody wants to win and revenge never has anything to do with it. The team that plays the best is the team that wins.”
Elijah Hughes scored 26 points as Syracuse (12-7, 5-3) improved to 4-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference road play.
John Mooney netted 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Fighting Irish. His 12th consecutive double-double broke Luke Harangody’s 11-year-old school record, but Notre Dame (11-7, 2-5) remained winless in its three ACC home games.
“That’s about as good as we’re gonna be offensively right there,” Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We just couldn’t get enough stops. Disappointed for our guys, (but) we’ll keep swinging.”
The Orange scored eight straight points to turn a 70-70 deadlock at 4:54 to go into a 78-70 lead with 43 seconds left.
The Irish closed to within 82-80 with 10 seconds remaining, but Syracuse freshman Joseph Girard III hit two free throws with nine seconds left for an 84-80 count before T.J. Gibbs scored just in front of the final horn for Notre Dame. Girard has made 50 of 52 free throws this season.
The Irish erased a deficit that had reached 64-51 with 13:47 to go, taking a 69-68 with six minutes left, before the Orange took control down the stretch. Syracuse trailed by as many as 11 in the first half.
Girard scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Orange. Bourama Sidibe added 12 points on 6 of 6 from the field.
Dane Goodwin scored 15 points off the bench for the Irish. Gibbs added 13.
The Orange’s win came 19 days after losing 88-87 at home to Notre Dame. They’ve also avenged losses to Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Much like the first meeting, Wednesday’s rematch featured a blistering back-and-forth pace much of the way. There were 16 lead changes this time after 18 in the first matchup.
Syracuse: The ACC has an unusually low three ranked teams - No. 5 Florida State, No. 6 Louisville and No. 8 Duke - but that gives the surging Orange plenty of opportunities to make hay with the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Syracuse still plays all three ranked teams, with only the Blue Devils at home.
Notre Dame: The Irish, far more in scramble mode now than Syracuse, have three matchups left against top-10 clubs as well, including two against Florida State to go with a trip to Duke. Notre Dame still has the chance to turn committee heads, too.
MOODY OVER MOONEY
Boeheim expressed dismay that Mooney didn’t make the Wooden Award preseason top-25 watch list.
Mooney added a game-high six assists to his 21 points and 13 boards against the Orange, and is leading the nation in rebounding at 13.9 per game.
“I don’t get into too much on stuff (like this), but if John Mooney is not one of the top 25 players in the country, then I don’t know anything about college basketball, literally nothing,” Boeheim said.
“It’s absolutely a joke that he’s not one of the top 25 - and I was just gonna say that, but I’ll mention Elijah Hughes is pretty good, too. … What he’s doing has been remarkable for us, and what Mooney’s done is absolutely remarkable.”
Hughes entered Wednesday averaging 19.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
WOWED BY WOOTTEN
Both coaches expressed deep admiration for Morgan Wootten, the iconic former high school coach at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md., who died Tuesday at 88.
Brey was a student of, played for and was an assistant coach to Wootten, while Boeheim recruited many of DeMatha’s players over the years.
“I draw on those experiences every day,” Brey said of Wootten. “He was a positive guy. He was a great confidence giver of young people.”
Added Brey with a reflective smile of Wednesday’s loss, “I may get a text from heaven tonight (saying) ‘Mike, remember the one-on-one drills we did at DeMatha where you keep your man in front?’ I may get that tonight, and God bless it, I deserve it.”
Boeheim called Wootten “as good as any coach or better than any coach I’ve ever seen. Forget about high school or college or whatever.”
“He did everything the right way,” Boeheim said. “If you didn’t do what you were supposed to do, you didn’t play. He was the most disciplined coach that I’ve ever seen in terms of having his players absolutely disciplined to do the right thing every day.”
Syracuse: The Orange host Pittsburgh on Saturday in the first of two regular-season meetings with the Panthers.
Notre Dame: The Irish visit No. 5 Florida State on Saturday before following with a season-high three-straight league home games.
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