Ever since Syracuse beat Duke in a game for the ages at the Dome in early February, the Orange has not played its best basketball. SU’s shooting percentage has decreased every game since February 1. In Wednesday’s loss to Boston College, Syracuse shot an abysmal 32 percent from the field. The Orange was extremely lucky to go 4-1 in the post-Duke span. Against Pittsburgh and NC State, SU trailed for most of the game before winning inconceivably in the final minutes. Boeheim’s team got a little lucky.
Whether it’s injuries, fatigue or a lack of motivation, SU plays down to its lower competition. This is exactly what happened against BC. The team looked like a sluggish mid-level ACC team, not an undefeated one. At this point in the season, a six-win team has no business going on the road and beating the top-ranked team in the nation. SU let that happen.
But in this year’s biggest contests, however, the Orange was always inspiring.
Tonight’s game against no. 5 Duke offers Syracuse a chance to revitalize. The last time these two teams met, C.J. Fair had 28 points on 60 percent shooting. Jeremi Grant scored 24 points and had 12 boards. Tyler Ennis tied a career high with nine assists. Trevor Cooney made every three-pointer he attempted and Rakeem Christmas finished with an astounding six blocks. SU was playing its best basketball of the season, which is something we have not seen much of lately.
Facing a very talented Blue Devils squad at Cameron Indoor presents Syracuse with a chance to return to top form. SU has shot an unbelievable 49.6 percent against ranked opposition this season. The “big” game inspires this team which is an extremely important trait to posses come tournament time. The Orange knows there is no margin for error in these contests and the team raises its play.
A win tonight not only puts Syracuse in a great position in the ACC, it also gives them a chance to finish the year with momentum heading into the post season. These last five games have been largely more frustrating than entertaining for Orange fans. A victory (or even a solid performance) gives SU its gusto and confidence back, which is truly needed. Syracuse must eventually return to championship form if it wants to win an NCAA tournament title. That ascent back can start tonight.
Posted by: Connor Morrissette