Notre Dame will look to build momentum on Saturday afternoon when it opens Atlantic Coast Conference play against visiting Syracuse in South Bend, Ind.

The Fighting Irish (6-1) have been a force in nonconference play, including a convincing 70-52 victory against Michigan State on Thursday.

Cormac Ryan scored 20 of his 23 points in the first half against the Spartans. It was a key bounce-back performance for the Fighting Irish, who sustained their first loss with a 63-51 setback to St. Bonaventure on Nov. 25.

Ryan made 8 of 11 shots from the floor -- including 6 of 7 attempts from 3-point range -- for Notre Dame on Thursday.

"I think we were due for one, all of us," Ryan said after the win. "We have guys who are too good at playing the right way. I think we were still kind of finding ourselves and we picked a good night to figure it out."

Nate Laszewski is leading Notre Dame with 16.9 points per game, while Dane Goodwin (14.0), J.J. Starling (13.0), Ryan (11.9), and Trey Wertz (11.3) are also averaging double-digit scoring.

Syracuse (3-4) is trying to dig itself out of a rut.

The Orange have lost three straight, including a lopsided 73-44 setback to Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday.

"We've got some young guys that are trying to figure out what they have to do, and they didn't figure it out very well tonight," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We got a lesson."

This comes after a season in which his team finished under .500 and ninth in the ACC. His .485 winning percentage following the 16-17 campaign was his worst of his coaching career.

Judah Mintz has led Syracuse in scoring, averaging 15.1 points per game. Jesse Edwards is contributing 13.7 and Joseph Girard III is adding 13.4 to round out the Orange attack.

--Field Level Media

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