New York State In-depth

What to watch out for: Syracuse vs. Notre Dame

January 11, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Maliq Brown speaks to the media after Syracuse’s victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies at the JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Gustin/The Juice Online.

Syracuse hosts Notre Dame at 7 p.m. Saturday at the JMA Wireless Dome (TV: ACCN). Here are four things to look out for in the game:

Will Joe Girard stay hot?

Since Joe Girard failed to score against Illinois on November 29, Girard has been at a blistering pace. He’s been in double digits in 10 straight games and has increased his score to 17.2 ppg, leading SU. His 24 points in 10-20 shooting was a classic performance from Girard, who scored most of his points from inside the arc (17 points) for a game-high 24 points. Girard broke his early-season crisis against Notre Dame when he scored 20 points on 9-18 shooting (2-10 downtown) in a surprise 62-61 win over Notre Dame. If Girard goes, so does Syracuse, and the Orange can only hope to continue its incredible run.

Can Jesse Edwards finish his slump?

On the other hand, Jesse Edwards, once Syracuse’s top scorer, has cooled off significantly in the past four weeks. Beginning with the December 12 game against Monmouth, Edwards has only kicked the ball twice more than 10 times in a game. In those seven games, he only hit more than 50 percent of his field goals twice. Jim Boeheim lamented after the Virginia Tech game that Edwards was pushed down far too often, which limited his effectiveness. Still, Notre Dame could be just what Edwards needs to return to his dominant self. He scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds against the Fighting Irish in the team’s first matchup, and without a legitimate big man to match Edwards on the inside, he could be set for a rebound game.

Will Maliq Brown play big minutes again?

When Maliq Brown was given longer minutes he made the best of it. In his last two games, Brown has averaged 35 minutes, averaging 10.5 ppg and adding 10.0 rpg. He hit the first double-double of his career against the Hokies and finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds with nothing off offense going through his mind. In the last eight games, Brown has played 20 minutes or more four times. In these games, he averages 9.5 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Boeheim praised Brown after Virginia Tech’s win, saying he was playing starter minutes even though he wasn’t a starter. That bodes well for Brown getting more time and breaking away from the rest of the underclassmen at one of the wing points.

» Related: Transfers struggle after basketball stints at Syracuse

Will Benny Williams play well?

Benny Williams’ insanely volatile season continues. He missed Saturday’s game against Virginia due to illness and only played 8 minutes against Virginia Tech. But after playing his best game of the season against Boston College with 16 points and 11 rebounds, he performed poorly against Louisville after 28 minutes, where he scored just 3 points and rallied just 3 rebounds. Syracuse needs him to be more consistent and he hasn’t shown that yet.

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