SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Rick Jackson went into the Syracuse locker room at halftime against Notre Dame shaking his head. The senior forward was high-fiving his teammates at the final buzzer.
Jackson entered the game averaging 13.6 points and 12.2 rebounds, tops on the boards in the Big East and fourth nationally. But after a first half in which he scored just four points, he reverted to form in the second half Saturday as the No. 5 Orange beat the No. 15 Irish 70-58.
Jackson had all four of his first-half points on free throws and found little room in the paint. But he scored four baskets and had four of his career-high six blocks in the second half to spur the Orange (15-0, 2-0 Big East). Freshmen centers Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita were relegated to the bench mostly.
"It felt great going out there (to center)," said Jackson, who finished with 12 points and three assists. "Our two young centers were in there, and they (the Irish) were able to get some easy shots. I knew Coach (Jim Boeheim) was going to put me in (at center) and made up my mind that I wasn't going to let that (easy shots) happen."
Jackson's two-handed slam with 15:43 left was his first basket and tied the score at 42-all. After Scoop Jardine's steal and layup and a jumper from the top of the key by Kris Joseph, Jackson converted a feed high off the glass and the Orange was running.
"The key was how Rick controlled the middle," said Jardine, who finished with 15 points. "In the first half, they were getting in the middle. In the second half, we controlled everything."
Joseph had 18 points and a eight rebounds for Syracuse.
Tim Abromaitis led Notre Dame (12-2, 1-1) with 15 points. The Irish, ranked second nationally in shooting (52.5 percent) entering the week, finished 23-of-54 (42.6 percent) and went 7-of-21 on 3-pointers against the Syracuse zone. Notre Dame also finished with 15 turnovers, nearly five more than its average.
No. 9 G'town 86, DePaul 75: Austin Freeman and Jason Clark scored 21 apiece, and the host Hoyas (12-2, 1-1 Big East) survived a second-half scare before pulling away against the Blue Demons (6-8, 0-2). The Hoyas never trailed, but they had an 11-point lead cut to one with 14 minutes left before a pair of 8-0 runs put the game out of reach.
No. 16 BYU 93, Fresno Pacific 57: Stephen Rogers scored 16 to lead the host Cougars (14-1), who got 46 points from their reserves.
No. 24 Syracuse 91, Ark.-Pine Bluff 56: Kayla Alexander had 21 points and 14 rebounds as the host Orange (12-1) notched its 39th straight nonconference victory at home.
Miami 91, Lipscomb 52: Shenise Johnson scored 25 and grabbed 10 rebounds as the host Hurricanes (14-1) finished their nonconference schedule with their 13th straight win. Morgan Stroman (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Riquna Williams (24 points, 11 rebounds) also posted double doubles for Miami.