Syracuse-South Florida Preview
Jim Boeheim's latest achievement adds to his legacy, and he's one of the major reasons Syracuse is almost always one of the top teams in the nation.
That may provide further motivation for Stan Heath and South Florida in their continued effort to prove their legitimacy.
Coming off an historic victory for Boeheim, Brandon Triche looks to build on his best performance of the season as the seventh-ranked Orange attempt to continue their dominance of the Bulls in a Big East matchup Sunday.
Syracuse (13-1, 1-0) is regularly among the country's elite, and much of the credit goes to Boeheim, whose 903 wins are second all-time among Division I coaches. Boeheim, in his 37th season at his alma mater, passed Bob Knight on that list Wednesday, when the Orange defeated Rutgers 78-53 to begin conference play.
South Florida (9-3) is looking for respect of its own as it opens its Big East schedule after winning four in a row following Wednesday's 65-56 win over Central Florida.
The Bulls reached the third round of last year's NCAA tournament and Heath is the conference's reigning coach of the year. However, they haven't managed a five-game winning streak since reeling off seven in a row from Nov. 17-Dec. 8, 2007.
"Some people think, 'Oh, yeah they've earned a little bit of respect,' and some people think it's a fluke," Heath told the team's official website. "I take the attitude, 'Well, they think we're a fluke, so let's go out and prove (ourselves) again that we're a good basketball team.'
"That's my mindset and I'm sure the players still play with that chip on their shoulders."
Despite South Florida's recent success, the Orange have dominated the series to the tune of nine wins in 10 meetings. They've won the past four matchups by an average of 13.3 points, while holding the Bulls to 37.6 percent from the floor - 17.8 from beyond the arc.
Syracuse overcame its own poor shooting to beat them in last season's only meeting Feb. 22, winning 56-48 at home despite making just 34.5 percent from the field.
Triche, the Orange's leader with 14.6 points per game, wasn't a factor in that meeting, missing all six of his shots to finish with three points. He's entering this one looking to build upon a season-high 25 points while sinking 8 of 11 field goals - 5 of 7 from long range - while adding six assists and four steals against the Scarlet Knights.
Triche was averaging 10.5 points over the previous four games, but Boeheim isn't wavering in his faith in the senior guard.
"I have total confidence in him," Boeheim said. "I believe he can play like he played (Wednesday) every night. Every single night."
The Bulls may be hoping for some consistency out of Anthony Collins, who had 16 points and 10 assists Wednesday after totaling 14 of each over the previous two games.
The sophomore guard is averaging 10.2 points on the season, and his 7.8 assists puts him among the nation's leaders. However, he's still well back of the actual leader - Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams (10.1).
Bulls guard Jawanza Poland has a 15.0-scoring average over the past three games after getting 18 points against the Knights.