E. Michigan-Syracuse Preview

There was expected to be a certain amount of attention on one of

Jim Boeheim’s former assistant coaches for Syracuse’s game against

Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night, but this was not what anyone had

hoped.

Two days after the firing of associate head coach Bernie Fine,

the fourth-ranked Orange welcome back former assistant Rob Murphy,

who now leads the Eagles.

Amid an investigation into child molestation allegations,

Syracuse (6-0) dismissed Fine on Sunday after a third man accused

him of molesting him nine years ago. Fine, a member of the coaching

staff since 1976, had been on administrative leave.

“The allegations that have come forth (Sunday) are disturbing

and deeply troubling,” Boeheim said in a statement released by the

school. “I am personally very shocked because I have never

witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe

the university took the appropriate step.”

Despite playing in the shadow of an ugly investigation, Syracuse

hasn’t seemed too distracted.

The Orange won the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden

with a 69-63 victory over Stanford on Friday. Senior Kris Joseph

had 18 points and eight rebounds, Scoop Jardine scored a

season-best 14 and Syracuse closed the game on a 15-3 run.

“We just went back to what was working down the stretch,” said

Joseph, who earned MVP honors with 38 points and 19 boards in the

two games. “We played well. We played hard and came out with the

win.”

The Cardinal became the latest opponent frustrated by Syracuse’s

2-3 zone defense, turning the ball over 24 times. On the season,

the Orange are limiting opponents to 58.5 points and 37.3 percent

shooting while forcing an average of 21.5 turnovers.

Murphy’s familiarity with his former team’s menacing defense

doesn’t give him a sense of encouragement in the opener of a

nine-game road stretch.

An assistant at Syracuse for seven years before being hired by

Eastern Michigan (4-2) in April, Murphy watched his team put

together its worst offensive showing of the season in a 72-40 loss

to Michigan State on Sunday. The Eagles shot 28.6 percent from the

field, went 3 of 22 on 3-pointers and turned the ball over a

season-worst 18 times.

J.R. Sims finished with 14 points and was Eastern Michigan’s

only player to score more than six.

That performance didn’t sit well with Murphy, knowing his team

is probably going to receive an even bigger test from the Orange,

winners of 26 consecutive home games over non-conference

opponents.

“I don’t think it does much for us, Syracuse is a totally

different team,” Murphy said. “They’re much more talented, much

more athletic, much more aggressive.”

The Eagles – who don’t play at home again until Jan. 11 –

defeated the Orange 68-65 in their only meeting, but that came Dec.

14, 1996. Eastern Michigan reached the regional semifinals of the

NCAA tournament that season while Syracuse missed the tourney.

The Orange were also unranked in the first matchup and Eastern

Michigan has had no luck against Top 25 teams lately.

The Eagles have lost nine straight to ranked opponents since

defeating then-No. 21 Michigan 89-83 in overtime Dec. 17, 1997.

They lost to then-No. 2 Michigan State 96-66 last Nov. 12 and have

been outscored by an average of 36.7 points in their last three

games against ranked foes.