Syracuse-Maryland Preview

BY foxsports • February 23, 2014

Two losses in four days have Syracuse working from behind in its quest for an ACC regular-season title in its first season in the league.

The fourth-ranked Orange, though, could still head to conference-leading Virginia this weekend with a chance to pull even in the race if they can knock off Maryland on Monday night.

Syracuse (25-2, 12-2) fell 62-59 in overtime at home to seven-win Boston College on Wednesday and lost 66-60 at then-No. 5 Duke on Saturday, dropping it out of the top spot in the poll.

"This end of the year is important for us," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We flew through obviously and escaped a few times. We knew the end of the year would be hard and that's fine.

"These games help you. This will help you. This was a tournament game. This will help you. We played slow and you see that in tournaments. We've learned a lot and we'll learn a lot more. We know how tough our next few games are."

Saturday's game was the Orange's fourth straight decided by six or fewer points, with the three before that ending in one-possession margins. Some offensive struggles have contributed to that, as Syracuse has shot 35.4 percent in the past three while going 6 for 33 from 3-point range.

It made 38.7 percent from the field against Duke while allowing the Blue Devils to hit 47.9.

"I don't think we'll probably play anymore," joked Boeheim, whose ejection for arguing a charging call gave Duke the technical foul shots to ice the game in the final 10 seconds. "I think we'll just give up."

The Orange were also unable to take advantage of 16 offensive rebounds with only 10 second-chance points.

They now shift their focus to the only meeting they'll have with Maryland (15-12, 7-7) as ACC foes. A win Tuesday and a Virginia loss to Miami on Wednesday would pull Syracuse to within a game going into Saturday's showdown.

The Terrapins, headed to the Big Ten next season, avoided a third consecutive defeat by winning 71-60 at home over Wake Forest on Tuesday. Reserve guard Nick Faust scored a career-high 20 points as leading scorer Dez Wells was held to six.

"I'm proud of my group," coach Mark Turgeon said. "We had some guys step up tonight. Nick Faust was terrific. I thought his passing was great and so was his defense. He scored, defended, made free throws, rebounded and did a lot of good things to help us win tonight."

While Syracuse has been busy, the Terps will have had five days off to prepare.

"They're a great team," Faust said. "We have a lot of time before we play them. We're looking forward to practicing and getting better."

Maryland is in eighth place in the conference and needs a big win to boost its postseason resume. It's 0-5 against Top 25 teams, though this is just its second shot at a ranked opponent on its home court.

Forward Jake Layman acknowledged Sunday that the game would have been far more intriguing if Syracuse was still undefeated.

''Yeah, but there's still a lot of hype around the game," he said. "It's still huge for us.''

The Terrapins and Orange have met twice in the last decade, both times in the postseason, with Syracuse winning each.

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