January 28, 2024 

ACC notebook: Notre Dame’s defeat of UConn, Syracuse’s dominance and Louisville’s rise to the top

Notre Dame defeated UConn, Syracuse and Louisville showed their strength, and Virginia Tech rebounded from surprising losses

Notre Dame stole the show this week with a statement win over UConn, coupled with its official announcement that star guard Olivia Miles will not return for the remainder of the season. But despite these major headlines, with six other nationally ranked teams in the conference there’s plenty more to talk about. This includes Syracuse and Louisville’s fight for the top spot in the ACC, as well as Virginia Tech’s rebound from its surprising losses to Duke and Florida State.

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Here’s your Week 12 roundup of ACC play.

What everybody’s talking about: Notre Dame squashes No. 8 Huskies

Coming off of a loss to No. 22 Syracuse on Thursday, Notre Dame shattered No. 8 UConn’s 13-game win streak on Saturday. The Irish defeated the Huskies 82-65 behind a career-best 34 points from freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo and 23 points from senior forward Maddy Westbeld, despite an electric crowd in Gampel Pavilion. 

UConn is currently the No. 1 team in the BIG EAST and was undefeated at home prior to facing Notre Dame. The two teams played a tight game until less than five minutes remained in the fourth quarter, when the Irish pulled away to defeat the Huskies by 15 points, their largest margin of defeat of the season. 

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This caught my attention: Louisville remains undefeated at home, steals No. 1 spot from Syracuse

With a win over Pitt on Sunday, Louisville preserved its 11-0 home record and rose to No. 1 in the ACC standings. The Cardinals cruised past Pitt 77-58 just days after besting Boston College 88-60 at the KFC Yum! Center. 

Louisville has been the definition of consistency this season — unlike other ACC powerhouses like Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, the Cardinals don’t rely on big, 20 plus point games from key players to propel them to victory. Instead, Louisville receives consistent contributions across the board. 

Graduate guard Kiki Jefferson leads the Cardinals in scoring, but averages just 13.0 points per game in ACC play and ranks 20th in the conference in scoring. But Louisville has four other players it can count on — junior guard Jayda Curry, sophomore forward Nyla Harris, graduate guard Sydney Taylor and senior forward Olivia Cochran — to consistently pour in eight to 10 points per game to keep the Cardinals ahead. 

In the coming weeks, the Cardinals’ undefeated record at home will be tested in games against NC State and Virginia Tech.

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Other notable headlines:

Miles confirms she’s out for the season

Notre Dame confirmed on Saturday that star guard Olivia Miles will be out for the remainder of the 2023-24 season as she continues to recover from a major right knee injury that required surgery. The junior hasn’t suited up for the Irish since she was injured nearly a year ago in a regular season road game against Louisville. 

Miles was seen shooting around with her team at Gampel Pavilion prior to Notre Dame’s game against UConn and has been actively working out, but she still isn’t in good enough shape to confidently step back onto the court. 

Hidalgo has filled the void Miles left quite nicely — the rookie currently averages 23.9 points per game and leads the nation in assists — but fans are itching to see what an unstoppable pair the two would make.

Hokies, Amoore bounce back better than ever after two consecutive losses

Virginia Tech gave Hokie fans a fright earlier this month when it suffered two consecutive losses to Florida State and Duke. Even more concerning was star guard Georgia Amoore suffering a head injury and leaving the game midway through the third quarter against the Blue Devils. 

After this week, fans can rest assured that these losses were a fluke — Tech blew past both Georgia Tech and Syracuse to secure double-digit wins in both games. Amoore returned to the court looking just fine and scored over 20 points in both contests. 

Despite loss to Hokies, Syracuse has been dominant

Just a few days ago, the Orange were off to their best start to conference play in program history at 7-1.  After finishing ninth in the ACC last season, Syracuse ranked No. 1 in the conference heading into Week 12. To top it all off, the Orange’s seventh win came in South Bend, Indiana, over Notre Dame. With the win, Syracuse successfully completed the season sweep over the Irish. 

Unfortunately for the Orange, the team couldn’t carry its momentum into its matchup with No. 19 Virginia Tech on Sunday. Syracuse fell 75-62 to the Hokies after falling behind early in the first quarter. 

As a result, Syracuse fell to the No. 2 spot in the ACC standings, just behind Louisville. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Cardinals still have yet to face some of the more challenging ACC squads, including Florida State, NC State, Notre Dame — twice — and Virginia Tech. But with the exception of Louisville — which it will face twice in the next two weeks — Syracuse’s date with the Wolfpack on Feb. 29 is the Orange’s only remaining game against a team that currently ranks in the top seven in the conference. Syracuse and Louisville are set to square off this week on Thursday, Feb. 1, which will give the Orange a chance to prove themselves and retake the throne.   

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This week in ACC action

  • Thursday: Virginia plays Virginia Tech at 6 p.m. ET
  • Thursday: Notre Dame plays Georgia Tech at 7 p.m. ET
  • Thursday: Syracuse plays Louisville at 7 p.m. ET
  • Thursday: UNC-Chapel Hill plays NC State at 8 p.m. ET
  • Sunday: Miami plays Florida State at 11 a.m. ET
  • Sunday: Virginia Tech plays UNC-Chapel Hill at 12 p.m. ET
  • Sunday: Clemson plays Virginia at 4 p.m. ET

Written by Jenna Cuniowski

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