Syracuse-NC State Preview

Off-court issues have not caused Syracuse to stumble. A bigger

challenge could be its upcoming first true road test.

Back atop the AP poll for the first time in two seasons, the

Orange look to remain undefeated when they take their initial trip

out of the state of New York on Saturday night to face North

Carolina State.

With an 85-50 victory over George Washington last Saturday

coupled with losses by then-No. 1 Kentucky and No.2 Ohio State,

Syracuse (10-0) earned its first No. 1 ranking since a one-week

appearance late in the 2009-10 season.

“We’re proud to be No. 1 in the country,” coach Jim Boeheim

said. “It’s an honor but obviously in today’s world you could only

be there until your next game if you’re not careful.

“We have played well but we have to play better. It’s a great

challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”

The Orange continue to brush aside any potential distraction

stemming from the investigation of former assistant coach Bernie

Fine, alleged to have molested two former ball boys.

“Young kids constantly have different things going in their

lives,” Boeheim said. “They have the ability to focus on things

they have to do and they get it done.”

Boeheim’s squad has averaged 80.1 points while winning its first

10 games by an average margin of 22.8. Seven players are averaging

at least 6.7 points, led by senior forward Kris Joseph’s 13.7 per

game.

“We have really good balance,” Boeheim said. “I think that’s

important to have a great team. Hopefully we’ll get better.”

Key reserve Dion Waiters, averaging 11.9 points per game, had 19

as the Orange starters played limited minutes against George

Washington. Syracuse went 32 of 64 from the field while holding the

Colonials to 30.6 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers.

The Orange should have a tougher time Saturday. The only other

occasion Syracuse left campus was last month when it beat Virginia

Tech and Stanford at Madison Square Garden to win the NIT Season

Tip-Off.

“We know we’ll have a bull’s-eye on our back,” senior guard

Scoop Jardine said. “It’s going to be tough.”

Jardine had 23 points, six rebounds and six assists to help

Syracuse improve to 3-1 all-time against North Carolina State with

a 65-59 home win last December.

Though the Wolfpack (6-3) have dropped six straight games

against ranked opponents, they were victorious the last time the

nation’s No. 1 team visited Raleigh – 78-74 over neighboring ACC

rival Duke on Feb. 15, 2004.

Syracuse is the first top-ranked non-conference opponent to play

at N.C. State since 1979, when Notre Dame beat the Wolfpack

53-52.

“Definitely excited for the Syracuse game,” junior forward Scott

Wood told N.C. State’s official website. “We need to come out

strong.”

The Wolfpack avoided a third straight loss and improved to 5-1

at home with a 65-60 win over North Carolina Central on Sunday.

C.J. Williams scored 21 points and Wood added 19 as N.C. State

overcame a season-low 37.0 percent shooting effort and 16

turnovers.

Leading scorer C.J. Leslie (12.8 ppg), who was held to a

season-low three points Sunday, had 13 with 11 rebounds at Syracuse

a year ago. Wood scored 18 in that contest.

The Orange and Wolfpack will be regular opponents when Syracuse

joins the ACC.