Two games into the Big East season, Syracuse has already had a couple of players get banged up. While not ideal, it has managed to overcome those injuries and win both games.
The 11th-ranked Orange expect to have both Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf back on Wednesday when they host DePaul, as they try to open conference play with three straight victories for the first time in three years.
After going through the non-conference part of its season without any injuries to its starters, Syracuse (14-1, 2-0) had someone get injured in each of its first two Big East games.
In the Orange’s conference opener, a 100-76 win over Seton Hall on Dec. 30, Harris cut his right ring finger and had to leave after 11 minutes. Harris, who is third on the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game, finished with just three and missed Friday’s 59-54 win at South Florida.
Without Harris, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim used just seven players. It got even more interesting in the second half when Devendorf was slowed by a hip pointer.
Despite the injury, Devendorf still managed to put away the game by hitting both ends of a 1-and-1 with 19.2 seconds remaining.
“I know when I’m at the free-throw line, I’m going to knock them down,” said Devendorf, who has been limited in practice. “I just went up there and took my time and knocked them both down.”
Both injured players are expected to play Wednesday, although Devendorf may again come off the bench, when the Orange try to open 3-0 in the Big East for the first time since 2005-06.
Against South Florida, Devendorf came off the bench for the second consecutive game since returning from a school suspension for his role in an off-campus altercation with a female student in November. The 6-foot-4 guard was reinstated last month after completing 40 hours of community service, and he scored 20 points against Seton Hall after missing the previous two games. He had a season-low eight versus the Bulls.
Devendorf was instrumental in Syracuse’s 60-55 win at DePaul (8-7, 0-2) last season, as he finished with 27 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range and had a career-high five steals.
The Orange are 2-1 against the Blue Demons since they joined the Big East in 2005-06.
DePaul has gotten off to rough start to the conference schedule. It lost to Providence 62-54 on Saturday after dropping its Big East opener 92-82 to then-No. 7 Notre Dame.
Poor shooting hurt the Blue Demons against the Friars, as they connected on 35.1 percent from the floor and 3-for-19 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Dar Tucker, the conference’s third-leading scorer (19.6 points per game), finished with 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting. As a freshman last season, Tucker had four points on 2-for-10 shooting in DePaul’s loss to the Orange.
The Blue Demons have just one win in their last nine conference road games. They have dropped five straight road games against Top 25 opponents since an 84-81 win at then-No. 16 Wake Forest on Dec. 13, 2005.
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