SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse's Jim Boeheim is just like any coach — lose a couple of conference games and it's time to start looking for those worry beads.
No need to search anymore.
C.J. Fair had 18 points and 10 rebounds, freshman Jerami Grant scored a season-high 14 points, and No. 9 Syracuse beat No. 25 Notre Dame 63-47 on Monday night to snap a two-game losing streak that had dropped the Orange three spots in the rankings.
"This was a big win," Boeheim said. "Obviously, Notre Dame beat us last year. When you lose two games in a row in this league, you get nervous. Everybody does. This is a real good bounce-back win."
Syracuse (19-3, 7-2 Big East), which was coming off consecutive road losses against Villanova and Pittsburgh, has only three conference losses in its last 32 Big East games and has won a school-record 36 straight games at home, the longest active streak in Division I. Notre Dame (18-5, 6-4) had won three straight.
It was the first meeting between the teams since the Irish handed Syracuse its only conference loss last season, 67-58 at Purcell Pavilion last January. The Orange, unbeaten at the time and ranked No. 1, were missing shot-blocking, 7-foot center Fab Melo in that game because of an academic issue, and on Monday night senior James Southerland, the team's most consistent outside threat and third-leading scorer, missed his sixth straight game because of an eligibility matter related to academics.
Gone, too, from the Orange lineup was 6-foot-9, 288-pound freshman forward Dajuan Coleman, out for a month after knee surgery.
On this night, it didn't matter as the Syracuse defense clamped down behind its front line of Fair, Jerami Grant and Rakeem Christmas, who combined for 44 points, six blocks, and 21 rebounds. They also teamed to help limit the touches of Notre Dame big man Jack Cooley in the middle and the Orange's perimeter defenders held their own against the Irish sharpshooters.
The 6-foot-9, 246-pound Cooley, a major force as the Irish outrebounded the Orange by 13 in last year's game, finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, his 15th double-double of the season.
Notre Dame finished 6 of 20 on 3-pointers, shot 34.6 percent (18 of 52) for the game, and was outrebounded 32-28. The Irish also matched their season low for points. They also were held to 47 in a home loss two weeks ago to Georgetown.
"We've got to make some more of those shots to escape here," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "When we've had success against them, we've made more 3s. But that's not necessarily us missing. They have such length because their guards are so big this year. They come out and close out. It's a rough shot.
"We fought, we battled, we tried. But we needed to get into a better scoring rhythm. It was hard against them tonight because of the way they defended."
Christmas had 12 points and four blocks and Michael Carter-Williams had five points, eight assists and three steals for Syracuse.
Jerian Grant, Jerami's brother, finished with 15 points to lead the Irish. The game was the first in college between the Grant brothers and was just the second start for Jerami, who was 6 for 8 from the floor and made both free throws he attempted in playing every minute in place of Southerland.
"Teams really don't know what I can do because I haven't been playing a lot," said Jerami, who swished a pair of midrange jumpers in the first four minutes. "He (brother Jerian) definitely should know what to expect, but I've been working hard since I've been here. He hasn't really seen me play.
"I got a lot of confidence out there with my first two shots. I felt like I played off that energy."
The Irish fell behind 41-28 midway through the second half as the Orange put together a 13-4 spurt spanning halftime to assume control.
Syracuse stretched its 30-24 halftime lead back to 10 in the opening minutes of the second. Christmas hit a foul-line jumper at the shot-clock buzzer after corraling the rebound of a miss by Carter-Williams and Fair followed with a dunk off a steal by Carter-Williams.
Christmas then converted a follow dunk off a miss by Brandon Triche, Trevor Cooney sank a 3 from the wing, and Christmas hit again off the glass to boost the lead to 43-28 at 11:05.
Cameron Biedscheid stopped the Syracuse surge with a 3 from the left corner and Jerian Grant converted a three-point play to move the Irish back within 43-34 with 10 minutes left.
Syracuse stretched it back to 48-35 on a 3 by Carter-Williams with 6:02 left and the Irish were finished.
"Defense is going to take us far," Christmas said after his strongest game of the season. "If we play defense, we'll win games even if our offense isn't there."
Syracuse entered the game limiting opponents to 32.3 percent shooting on 3-pointers while Notre Dame was hitting 39.6 percent from behind the arc. Biedscheid finished 1 of 8 from behind the arc.
Notre Dame guards Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins had nine assists and eight turnovers between them. Not a good omen for a team that entered the game ranked first nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.74).
No. 23 Pittsburgh 56, Seton Hall 46
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh basketball coach Jamie Dixon isn't much on style points.
Good thing, because there weren't many to go around in the 23rd-ranked Panthers' 56-46 win over Seton Hall on Monday night.
Pitt shot a season-low 35 percent (16 of 46), turned it over 13 times and let the undermanned Pirates hang around for far too long. Yet it didn't stop the surging Panthers (19-5, 7-4 Big East) from winning for the sixth time in seventh games to give their turnaround season another welcome shot of momentum.
"There's not a lot of teams with 19 wins in the country, that's first and foremost," Dixon said. "You've got to find different ways. We're not going to win every game the same way."
Barely 48 hours after an emotional upset of Syracuse, Pitt slogged its way past Seton Hall by shutting down the Pirates over the game's final 10 minutes.
Lamar Patterson scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and freshman center Steven Adams added eight points, 15 rebounds and two blocks for the Panthers, who survived on grit on a night they struggled to get into any sort of rhythm.
"When your shots aren't falling, it does get frustrating, but it's a good sign," Patterson said. "We fought through some things and faced a little adversity. We've just got to get our legs back."
Cameron Wright scored six of his eight points during a game-ending 18-8 surge that prevented Pitt from stubbing its toe after taking down the Orange.
"I just try to bring a lot of energy to the table, when I try to get an opportunity to score, I try to be aggressive," Wright said.
Fuquan Edwin led the Pirates (13-10, 2-8) with 23 points but was slowed after injuring his right ankle midway through the second half. Seton Hall shot just 33 percent (14 of 42) from the field and made just two baskets over the final 10:37.
"I'm kind of proud of our guys and way able to shuffle around and do different things," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "I thought other guys stepped up and kept fighting."
Pitt finally found some breathing room midway through the second half after Seton Hall took a 39-38 lead. Patterson hit a layup off a nice feed from Adams to put the Panthers in front for good and Adams followed with a nifty spin move for a dunk.
The quickly developing 7-footer hung on the rim, however, and received a technical foul for his efforts. Seton Hall's Kyle Smyth hit both free throws to pull the Pirates back within 42-41, but things changed for Seton Hall after Edwin landed awkwardly on his right ankle while battling for a rebound with 7:38 remaining.
Edwin hobbled to the bench and returned to the game a minute later after a quick examination, but he wasn't the same.
Neither were the Pirates.
Though Edwin would somehow make a lay-up while basically playing on one foot, it marked Seton Hall's only bucket for a 10-minute span until Haralds Karlis put home a meaningless dunk in the waning seconds.
Pitt outrebounded Seton Hall 40-28, including a 20-10 edge in the second half.
"The rebounding has improved, there's no question about it," Dixon said. "But I think our defense has improved too. We've got to win with that."
The Panthers vaulted back into the rankings following a 65-55 upset of the Orange over the weekend, the kind of victory Pitt needed to give its steady but hardly spectacular resume a boost.
Barely 48 hours after the season's biggest triumph, the Panthers flirted with giving away all of the goodwill they built.
The Pirates came in losers of seven of their last eight and were playing without sophomore guard Aaron Crosby, who missed the game for personal reasons. Minus its third-leading scorer, Seton Hall relied heavily on Edwin to handle most of the scoring and a frenetic, borderline out-of-control defense to force Pitt into a series of rushed shots and sloppy turnovers.
"It was a typical Big East game, we just didn't shoot the ball well," Pitt guard Tray Woodall said. "I think they did a good job of switching up their defenses and sending a bunch of junk defenses at us."
The Panthers took a quick seven-point lead then went more than 6 minutes without a field goal. The team that began the night second in assist/turnover ratio had just six assists on six turnovers in a disjointed opening 20 minutes that ended with an ugly 24-all .
Pitt quickly built another seven-point advantage early in the second half but Seton Hall scratched its way back in front 39-38 on a free throw by Edwin with 9:44 to go. It would be the Pirates' last hurrah on a night Pitt found a way even if it wasn't particularly pretty.