(MCT) — SYRACUSE, N.Y. — At midcourt, with the place emptying and the tenor of the encounter long guaranteed, little brother spread his arms and waited for big brother to walk over. Jerian and Jerami Grant exchanged a handshake and hugged, and Jerami told his confidant and former tormentor he got this one, and it wasn’t luck.
“I just told him, ‘Congrats, finally you got to beat big brother,’ ” Jerian Grant said after his Notre Dame team watched a three-game winning streak end in a dreary 63-47 loss to Jerami and No. 9 Syracuse.
“It’s a team game. It’s not just him versus me. His team played better than mine today, so hopefully we get to see him again. I feel like my team is really the better team. Today we had a bad day.”
That put it generously. The No. 25 Irish (18-5, 6-4 Big East) planned to play loose, only it was the kind of loose where everything is so ill-secured that gears and axles start flying all over. They shot 34.6 percent overall, just 27.6 percent in the second half, matching a season-low for points.
It was a freeze-up from the unit leading the Big East by hitting 46.6 percent from the floor in league games. When Syracuse (19-3, 7-2) hit at a 48.9 percent clip, the Irish had no shot, on several levels.
“We have to make some more of those shots to escape,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “That’s not necessarily us missing — they have such length because their guards are so big, they come out and close out. It’s a rushed shot.”
It was frenzied from the start. Notre Dame committed five of its 12 turnovers in an opening stretch in which Syracuse ran off 10 straight points. Grant and Eric Atkins had eight of the miscues overall, the kind of backcourt inconsistency the Irish won’t often overcome.
And the Orange willed the visitors do what they wanted. At halftime, leading scorer Jack Cooley (10 points, 11 rebounds) had taken one shot. At another point, Grant and Cooley had combined for seven shots while Cam Biedscheid and Tom Knight totaled 17.
“Defensively, we played as good a game as we could want to play,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.
When Notre Dame missed 13 of 15 shots to start the second half, the Orange extended to a decisive 15-point lead. It slogged on to the last minute when Cooley shuffled off, with Brey stopping his big man and patting him on the lower back. It was well past time to move along.
“It’s kind of frustrating, because we don’t ever shoot that poorly,” Cooley said. “We shot dismal. If we would have shot the way we shot all season, that would have been a heck of a game.”