Syracuse suffered its first loss on a 60-foot buzzer that’s been played countless times on highlight shows across the country. More than a fluke, though, the defeat highlighted a recurring problem for the Orange this season.
On Wednesday night, No. 11 Syracuse will try to avoid playing from behind again as it hosts a Canisius team that has dropped three in a row.
The Orange (9-1) lost 72-69 at home to Cleveland State on Monday, when Vikings senior Cedric Jackson grabbed an inbounds pass with 2.2 seconds remaining and sank a three-quarter court shot to win the game as time expired.
Junior forward Arinze Onuaku’s putback of Andy Rautins’ missed 3-pointer tied the game at 69, setting up Jackson’s last-second shot.
“I’m definitely in shock,” said Onuaku, the nation’s leader in field goal percentage at 77.5. “Coach (Jim Boeheim) has been harping on us to play from the beginning so we don’t have to come back and this is what happened.”
Syracuse only trailed by as many as five points, but needed 3s from Eric Devendorf and Jonny Flynn and a layup from Paul Harris in the final 2:20 to trim the Vikings’ lead.
The Orange, who were down by more than 10 points in victories over Kansas, Virginia and Cornell this season, have trailed at some point in five of their nine wins.
“We can’t keep putting ourselves in these holes and expect to come out of them,” said Boeheim, who will move past Lute Olson into ninth place in career Division I wins with a victory over Canisius. “We either start playing better early, or we’re going to have a very difficult time. We made great shots and great plays to get back in this, but you can’t put yourself in that position.”
Making shots hasn’t been a problem for the Orange, who are averaging 82.0 points and shooting 50.6 percent from the field. They’ll face a Canisius team that is holding opponents to 38.4 percent shooting.
The Golden Griffins (3-6), however, haven’t been as effective on the offensive end, scoring just 53.7 points per game and shooting 35.9 percent from the field during a three-game skid.
“We’re struggling to score right now. It’s not just one or two guys, it’s four or five guys,” Canisius coach Tom Parrotta told the school’s official Web site following the team’s 74-46 loss to Albany on Saturday. “We need to be able to put the ball in the basket.”
Junior guard Frank Turner leads Canisius with 13.3 points per game, but is shooting just 32.1 percent in his last two contests.
Canisius was outrebounded 56-31 by the Great Danes - the most rebounds the Golden Griffins had allowed since getting outrebounded 56-40 by St. Peter’s in a 71-62 loss on Jan. 21, 2002.
Syracuse is averaging 40.0 rebounds this season, but was outrebounded 11-1 on the offensive end in the first half of Monday’s loss.
This is the teams’ first meeting since the Orange defeated Canisius 81-71 on Nov. 25, 2006. Syracuse holds a 43-24 edge in the all-time series.