The No. 5-ranked Syracuse Orange rang in the New Year playing its best basketball of the season.
In what was its biggest challenge so far in Big East play, the Orange faced no. 15 Notre Dame (fresh off beating Georgetown) at the Carrier Dome on New Year's Day in front of 22,116 very animated spectators.
The Orange played a complete game and certainly did not appear to be sluggish even after the holiday. In the second half, Syracuse halted the Fighting Irish's run and scored 18 unanswered points en route to an impressive 72-58 victory.
The Orange overall has defeated Notre Dame 35 times in 49 head-to-head meetings. SU improved to an unblemished 15-0 overall, 2-0 in the Big East.
Syracuse was led by a balanced cast featuring Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, Rick Jackson and James Southerland. Joseph, for the fourth straight game, led all scorers posting 18 points on eight-for-17 shooting, while grabbing a season-high eight rebounds.
Jackson remained consistent, too, delivering 12 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots. He is tops in the Big East in rebounds at 8.6 per game and fifth-best in the country.
SU shot well, finishing at 49.1 percent from the floor (28-for-57), and held a strong Notre Dame offense beyond the arc to 29.4 percent The Orange forced 15 turnovers, nine of them in the second half, scored a fare share of points off those turnovers and dominated in the fast break category 21-8. Notre Dame's 58 points was a season low.
Southerland was one the keys to victory. He has gotten progressively stronger off the bench, getting 12 points against the Irish and making 50 percent of his 3-point shots. Meanwhile, Jardine registered another very good outing of 15 points to along with his 9 assists.
At the onset, Notre Dame was sharp, storming out to a 10-4 lead thanks to high percentage shooting from the floor. Senior Tim Abromaitis drilled a 12-foot shot and Mike Scott hit a pair of 3's in succession.