SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)—Kyle McAlarney knew he would get some open looks playing against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense.
He made the best of his chances Sunday, hitting 9-of-11 3-pointers to break the school record for 3s in a game, finishing with 30 points to lead the 21st-ranked Irish to a 94-87 victory over Syracuse.
McAlarney got started quickly, hitting his first 3 three minutes into the game, and following that up with a four-point play 50 seconds later. He later hit a 26-foot shot that gave the Irish a 32-25 lead.
“The bomb he hit got the whole thing started,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I’m glad he took it. That’s in his range. He can shoot that.”
McAlarney began thinking about having a big game while shooting by himself at the Joyce Center on Saturday night, knowing Syracuse’s zone would offer opportunities for him to shoot.
“I just took it when it was there,” he said.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said the Orange didn’t do a good job of keeping track of McAlarney.
McAlarney broke the school record of eight set by Keith Friel against Syracuse in 1998, matched by Matt Carroll against Syracuse in 2003, and matched twice by Colin Falls in 2005-06.
“I’m going to call Colin (Falls) up tonight and rub it in his face,” McAlarney said.
Brey said it’s no coincidence that two of the four players to set the previous record did so against Syracuse.
“All my guys I’ve had, when they see that zone, they start drooling. You almost need a towel to wipe their chin off because they can cut and move,” he said.
Syracuse, which trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half, closed to 78-72 on Arinze Onuaku’s slam dunk with 4:04 left, capping an 8-2 spurt where he scored six points. But Luke Harangody, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds, quickly scored a pair of baskets to help the Irish regain control.
The Irish made nine of 12 free throws in the final 1:24 to hang on.
Boeheim said the Orange played better offensively than they had recently, but played poorly on defense.
“We couldn’t get any stops on the defensive end,” he said.
It was the 17th straight Big East home victory for the Fighting Irish (21-5, 11-3), the second longest such streak in league history. Pittsburgh won 20 straight from 2001-04. Notre Dame has won 36 straight at home overall, two shy of tying the school record set from 1943-48.
Syracuse (17-11, 7-8), which has lost four of its last five games, is winless in three road games against ranked opponents this season.
Rob Kurz added 15 points for the Irish, and Tory Jackson and Ryan Ayers had 10 points each.
Paul Harris led Syracuse with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Onuaku had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Jonny Flynn added 17 points and Kristof Ongenaet had 11.
Donte Greene, who entered the game as Syracuse’s leading scorer at 17.6 points a game, was held to a season-low five points before fouling out with 5:54 left.
The victory leaves the Irish in third place in the Big East, a victory behind Georgetown and Lousiville, whom the Irish play Thursday. Brey said he’s just talking to his team about finishing in the top four so they can get a bye in the first round of the Big East tournament.
“I framed it this way with them the other day: Position for one of the byes … and maybe more,” Brey said. “They know what I’m talking about. Because this is going to be an interesting stretch. We can dream big dreams and keep working for that.”