For 32 minutes, this was no luck of the Irish. It was just a good old-fashioned pounding unlike few have ever seen in the Carrier Dome.
No. 21 Notre Dame went wild from long range in scoring 61 first-half points Tuesday night and survived a late comeback bid by Syracuse, 103-91.
A crowd of 23,274 saw Syracuse (15-7, 4-4 Big East) get torched for the most points the Orange ever has allowed in a first half and in a game in the Dome, breaking the record of 101 by West Virginia in 1996. The Orange has dropped three straight.
Notre Dame (18-5, 6-3) was 10 of 17 from three-point range in building a 61-42 lead at intermission, savaging Syracuse's man-to-man defense. The way the Irish were shooting, the Orange couldn't play much of its trademark zone.
"There's no excuse for the kind of defense we played in the first half," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We just didn't guard them."
"They were shooting like they were playing at Notre Dame," marveled SU forward Demetris Nichols, who poured in 19 of his game-high 29 points in the second half.
Notre Dame made 24 of 43 from the field in the first half, collecting 17 assists and making just two turnovers. The Irish finished the game at 48.4 percent overall and 11 of 23 from three-point range.
"We got off to a great start and played fearlessly with great unselfishness," said coach Mike Brey.
All five Irish starters finished in double figures, with 6-foot-8 freshman forward Luke Harangody collecting career highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds and freshman point guard Tory Jackson adding a career-high 19 points.
The Irish won without leading scorer and top rebounder Rob Kurz (14 ppg, 8.8 rpg), who sprained an ankle in Saturday's win over Villanova.
Notre Dame was up, 85-59, with 7 1/2 minutes left before Syracuse's full-court pressure cut the gap to 91-81. Notre Dame didn't hit a field goal in the final 10 1/2 minutes but survived because it cashed 24 of its final 28 free throws.
Guard Eric Devendorf, SU's second-leading scorer at 13.6 points, went scoreless (0 for 11 from the field). Freshman Paul Harris (Niagara Falls) had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double. He had been averaging just 2.9 points in conference play.