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Men’s Basketball: Out-benched

Bill Brink | Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Both Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson played the whole game against Syracuse Monday night, but time was ultimately not on Notre Dame’s side.

“[Syracuse] played like men for 40 minutes,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We played like men for probably 32.”

Harangody finished with 31 points and 14 rebounds and Jackson had 15 assists, but the host Irish lost 84-71 to No. 5 Syracuse Monday. The Irish (14-5, 3-3 Big East) have lost two straight conference games.

Notre Dame whittled away at the lead for the entire game, but were always at least one possession behind. Transition turnovers and allowing the Orange to grab key second-half offensive rebounds hampered Notre Dame’s chances at catching Syracuse.

“Sometimes we played fast when it was one possession,” Brey said.

Syracuse (14-5, 3-3) has won five straight in conference play. The Orange used their size and physicality to handle the Irish. Notre Dame had nine first-half offensive boards to Syracuse’s three, but the Orange grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the second half to Notre Dame’s six.

“We just need to be more physical,” junior forward Carleton Scott said. “We feel like we had to hit the boards harder. We hit the boards hard in the first half.”

The physicality took its toll on both teams. Jackson took an elbow to the chin fighting for a rebound and Orange junior forward Wes Johnson came down on his head under the basket.

Rautins scored 21 points and hit five first-half 3-pointers and Johnson led the Orange with 22 points.

Junior forward Tim Abromaitis made five 3-pointers and finished with 26 points.

Notre Dame trailed 55-53 after Jackson made two foul shots following the elbow with 9:47 left in the game, but turned the ball over on its next possession. The Irish stayed within as few as five with 3:21 left when Abromaitis hit two 3s in just over a minute, but Notre Dame couldn’t get any closer.

“I think it’s something I wanted to come out ready to get those open looks against the zone and really knock them down,” Abromaitis said. “Tory did a good job of penetrating and getting gin the lane and finding open guys, whether it was me or ‘Gody.”

Jackson sliced in and out of the Orange 2-3 zone, finding the other players on the perimeter amidst a tangle of athletic bodies in the paint. His 15 assists were the most in a Big East game this season.

“He did a tremendous job,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “He got in when there was almost no room and got the pass off.”

Rautins’ hot start had Brey playing with his defense. He switched to man-to-man to contest the shots, but then Syracuse’s big inside men, senior forward Arinze Onuaku and junior forward Rick Jackson, started scoring. The early deficit combined with the Orange zone made life difficult for the Irish.

“You kind of got to get the lead,” Brey said. “If we get the lead the karma changes a bit.”

Abromaitis dialed it up to start the second half, scoring eight points in the first eight minutes.

Syracuse was in the double bonus with six minutes remaining and hit its free throws down the stretch to keep its lead. They made 10 free throws in the final 6:11.

“We had a chance. We missed a couple big shots,” Jackson said. “That’s what’s so good about the Big East, you can’t dwell on one loss at all. You got great teams coming at you.”