The way coach Jim Boeheim is talking, it’s hard to believe Syracuse is still in the top 25.
His 23rd-ranked Orange (8-2) look to correct some of their problems when they meet Baylor (6-2) on Saturday at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse is playing its first 15 games in the state of New York, including 13 at home before it finally travels to face No. 20 Marquette on Jan. 7.
The lack of travel hasn’t helped Boeheim’s team gel as much as he’d prefer.
“I’m very disappointed in our level of play,” he said. “We’re just not cohesive on the offensive end. We can’t seem to get into a rhythm. You can’t make the kind of turnovers we did against top-20 teams, or you are going to be on the end of a beating, not just a loss, a beating.”
Syracuse is averaging 16.2 turnovers per game, the second-worst mark in the Big East. In addition, the Orange have been outrebounded in four of their last six games.
Both of the Orange’s losses have come to ranked opponents—No. 8 Wichita State and No. 15 Oklahoma State. However, Syracuse hasn’t played well in some of its victories, trailing at halftime in a Nov. 25 win over Canisius and giving up 20 offensive rebounds to smaller Colgate last Saturday in its most recent game, a 79-52 victory for the Orange.
“We think that just because sometimes we’re bigger and taller than everybody, we’re going to get the rebound,” freshman guard Paul Harris said. “It’s not even that. You’ve got to box out, and sometimes in a game we just don’t do it.”
Harris missed all four of his shots from the field and had a season-low two points in the Colgate game—his first career start. The preseason Big East newcomer of the year is averaging 11.3 points per game.
“People are putting too much pressure on this kid and he is putting too much pressure on himself,” Boeheim said.
Baylor is trying to halt a 16-game road losing streak, which dates to a 73-72 victory at Purdue on Dec. 30, 2004. That streak doesn’t include a 78-69 loss to Gonzaga at the Spokane Arena on Nov. 15 in the NIT Season Tip-Off, considered a neutral-site game.
The Bears had a four-game overall winning streak snapped with a 64-59 home loss to South Carolina on Saturday. They shot a season-low 42.9 percent from the floor, and coach Scott Drew blamed the loss in part to his team being in the middle of final exams.
“With the Syracuse game coming up, we called it a home final exam and a road final exam,” Drew said. “So hopefully the Syracuse exam will go better than the home one.”
Junior guard Aaron Bruce, a former Big 12 freshman of the year, is averaging 11.9 points—the second straight season his scoring has gone decreased.
This is the first meeting between Syracuse and Baylor.