Syracuse breaks offensive funk, pulls away from Notre Dame

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That definitely wasn’t pretty, Syracuse. At least not early.

However, the no. 9 Orange shook off a bad start first — both teams started the game poorly on the offensive end — and got a double-double from C. J. Fair to pull out a 63-47 victory over the no. 25 Fighting Irish at the Carrier Dome.

The win also snaps a two-game losing skid for Syracuse.

Syracuse’s scoring struggles weren’t so much a problem getting the ball in the basket, but just with any consistency. The Orange got out to a 10-0 lead in the first five-and-a-half minutes. Notre Dame, however, couldn’t get anything to drop, taking and missing only five shots in that same span before Eric Atkins hit a three at the 14:10 mark to break the drought.

The Irish responded with an 11-o run of their own to take the lead over just the next two-and-a-half minutes.

So yea, it was a game of struggle, then run, then struggle. The score was 18-17 Syracuse with 5:40 left in the half before both teams woke up and ended the half with Syracuse up 30-24.

The Orange steadily pulled away in the second half, with the final 16-point margin being the largest lead of the game with either team.

Fair finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Michael Carter-Williams, who got back being the best distributor in the country, finished with eight assists and only one turnovers. Jack Cooley finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Notre Dame.

Syracuse finished shooting 48.9-percent from the field, so the offensive struggle didn’t last long. Notre Dame hit 34.6-percent of their shots.

As Louisville can attest with their slump-buster over Pittsburgh last week, any win, however ugly, counts. The Orange got it. As for Notre Dame, it’s been a bit of a rough stretch since the win over a ranked Cincinnati team on Jan. 7. Losses to Connecticut, St. John’s, Georgetown and now Syracuse aren’t helping the Irish’s at-large hopes.

David Harten is the founder of The Backboard Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman¬†that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.