December 29, 1998
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Syracuse’s offense was awful. Troy Murphy’s was worse.
The No. 22 Orangemen, playing for only the second time in 17 days, missed nine of their first 10 shots against Notre Dame on Tuesday night. But they managed to shut down Murphy and come away with a 75-63 victory over the Irish.
Murphy, who scored 30 points in his Big East debut against Providence on Dec. 8, was 0-for-11 from the field and finished with five points, snapping his streak of 12 straight games in double figures.
Ryan Blackwell, Syracuse’s leading rebounder, was assigned to guard Murphy. “I think Blackwell was just tremendous tonight,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. “I didn’t think we could do this good a job defensively. I’m shocked we did such a good job on Murphy.”
Despite Murphy’s off night, the Irish (7-6, 1-1) trailed by only one point midway through the second half. But the Orangeman went on a 12-4 run, sparked by Allen Griffin’s 3-pointer, to go up 58-49.
The Irish got no closer than seven points the rest of the way in a loss that snapped Notre Dame’s five-game winning streak, the longest during John MacLeod’s eight-year tenure.
Jason Hart finished with 18 points and eight assists for Syracuse. Griffin scored 17 points and Etan Thomas added 15 for the Orangeman.
“I think we stayed patient until the game opened up,” Hart said. “In the beginning of the game, you’re going to have some mishandles, missed shots. But we kept our patience and were able to get some good buckets.”
Notre Dame, which led most of the first half, took a 36-34 lead three minutes into the second half on Phil Hickey’s layup and seemed on the verge of grabbing the momentum away from Syracuse following a steal. But on 3-on-1 fastbreak, an attempted alley-oop pass from Martin Ingelsby to Antoni Wyche was swatted away, and Hart hit 3-pointers on Syracuse’s next two possessions as the Orangeman took the lead for good.
David Graves scored 15 points for Notre Dame, while Hickey added 14. Murphy grabbed 13 rebounds for the Irish.
“Troy Murphy had a game that he will never forget,” MacLeod said. “He’s been on a roll and he was due for a bummer. … It wasn’t just Troy. We weren’t patient enough offensively.”
Syracuse shot only 30 percent in the first half, but the Orangemen went into the locker room with a 34-32 lead because they outscored the Irish from the foul line.
“Not only did we have a lot of wide open 3s, but we had about eight layups in the first half with nobody there. It’s so frustrating,” Boeheim said. “I thought our players maintained their poise very well in the face of that.”