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Bucknell-Syracuse Preview

AP - Sports

After succeeding in its first true road game, Syracuse must now turn its attention to a pair of home games before Big East play begins.

The top-ranked Orange look to remain undefeated while trying for a 31st consecutive non-conference home victory Tuesday night against Bucknell.

Dion Waiters scored a career-high 22 points off the bench and star Kris Joseph added 21 as Syracuse (11-0) used a key second-half run to win 88-72 at North Carolina State on Saturday in its first game outside the state of New York.

Guard Scoop Jardine scored 16 points as the Orange shot a season-high 56.5 percent and used an 11-2 second-half run to break open a two-point game. The Wolfpack trailed by as many as 17 in the first half but fought back to put a scare into Syracuse.

"Not to say that we're arrogant, but we're No. 1 in the country for a reason,'' said Joseph, who averages a team-leading 14.4 points per game. "Going into someone else's home, it's always going to be tough. Like I said, we held our composure - that's what I took out of this game.''

That successful experience has the Orange in position to open with 12 straight wins for the third consecutive season. Syracuse has been successful while managing to brush aside the potential distraction stemming from the investigation of former assistant coach Bernie Fine, who is alleged to have molested two former ball boys.

"I've been around a lot of good teams and that team right there might be playing on Monday night in April," first-year North Carolina State Mark Gottfried said about Syracuse, averaging 80.8 points on 48.4 percent shooting this season.

Waiters has been a big reason for the Orange's early success. A prime example of the team's quality depth, the sophomore guard is averaging 12.8 points on 51.9 percent shooting this season. He's gone 21 of 32 from the field while putting up 18.7 points in the last three contests.

With their first road test out of the way, the Orange could possibly be challenged against both Bucknell (7-4) and 11-1 Tulane before opening Big East play versus Seton Hall at the Carrier Dome on Dec. 28.

Syracuse's 30-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents dates to a 72-69 loss to Cleveland State on Dec. 15, 2008.

Bucknell has dropped eight straight games against Top 25 teams since winning 74-69 at then-No. 17 Syracuse on Nov. 22, 2005. The Bison had lost the previous eight meetings in the series.

Bucknell's only previous matchup with the nation's No. 1 team resulted in an 84-50 loss at Duke on Jan. 2, 2006.

The Bison enter this contest looking for a third consecutive victory after combining to shoot 60.2 percent in victories over Binghamton and Richmond. Guard Cameron Ayers scored 23 points and 6-foot-11 Mike Muscala added 22 with 12 rebounds as Bucknell shot 59.1 percent during a 79-65 win over the Spiders on Saturday.

The reigning Patriot League player of the year, Muscala averages 13.0 points and 9.2 rebounds. Ayers is averaging a team-leading 13.2 points per contest.

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