Boston College-Syracuse Preview
While consecutive last-second victories have preserved Syracuse's unbeaten record, coach Jim Boeheim realizes the historic start won't last long unless his team can get back on track offensively.
Boston College might not appear to be much of a threat, but the Eagles gave the Orange all they could handle last month.
With a matchup at No. 5 Duke looming, top-ranked Syracuse will try not to look past struggling Boston College as it goes for a 47th straight home win against an unranked opponent Wednesday night.
After freshman Tyler Ennis sank a 35-footer at the buzzer for a 58-56 win at then-No. 25 Pittsburgh last Wednesday, the Orange (25-0, 12-0 ACC) needed C.J. Fair's layup with 6.7 seconds left to slip past visiting North Carolina State 56-55 on Saturday.
Rakeem Christmas, who had 14 points and set career highs with 12 rebounds and seven blocks, had a key steal off a trap before Fair capped it with his layup in transition.
Syracuse managed to extend the best start in school history despite shooting 35.2 percent from the floor. Fair, Ennis and Trevor Cooney - three of the team's top four scorers - combined for just 28 points on 11-of-36 shooting.
Though the Orange have posted 70 points per game while shooting 45.4 percent on the season, they haven't reached those numbers in six of their last seven.
"I think moving forward for us to be a good team, we've got to play better offense," Boeheim said. "I don't look at our record. I feel like we played about really, overall well enough to be 20-5."
After taking on the Eagles (6-19, 2-10), Syracuse plays four of its final five contests on the road - starting with a showdown at Duke on Saturday. The Orange, who edged the Blue Devils 91-89 in overtime at home Feb. 1, are trying to become the first team to go undefeated through the regular season and NCAA tournament since Indiana in 1975-76.
Syracuse may be able to find its rhythm offensively against a Boston College team that has allowed an average of 78.7 points and 53.7 percent shooting in its last three games.
The Eagles have dropped a season-worst five straight games following a 73-59 loss to visiting Notre Dame on Sunday. They've also lost nine of 10 road contests this season.
Olivier Hanlan, who had a team-high 18 points Sunday, has been playing well with 21.3 points per game over his last three.
The sophomore guard had 13 points and six assists, while Lonnie Jackson caught fire with six 3-pointers on the way to a season-high 18 points as the Eagles put a scare into the Orange in the first meeting Jan. 13.
They led by five with just over 10 minutes to play before Syracuse went on a 14-0 run en route to a 69-59 road win. Cooney scored 21 to lead the Orange and Jerami Grant added 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
"We had all kinds of trouble at Boston College," Boeheim said. "And that's the way it's going to be."
The Orange haven't lost to an unranked foe at home since Jan. 25, 2011, winning the last 46 in those matchups by an average of 21.1 points. The Eagles have dropped 11 straight to Top 25 opponents - including all four this season.
While Syracuse has won 41 of 64 all-time meetings, this will be the first at the Carrier Dome since January 2004.