Item: We know that the Syracuse football team has dropped 15 of its last 16 games in the pivotal month of November with bowl game invitations on the line (it maddens us to no end to see the likes of Florida Atlantic, Florida International. and Appalachian State go bowling and not a tradition-rich Orange program), one of the worst records among Power 5 conference teams. A similar recent black eye is the road record of the Syracuse basketball team with just eight victories the last two seasons, including not winning away from the Dome last year until well into ACC play on Feb. 1 in overtime at North Carolina State, one of only two non-home court wins. Following Saturday’s first defeat on a neutral court in Miami to Kansas, the Orange will look to not waste time seeking a win away from campus with tonight’s matchup against 6-2 Connecticut (9:00 p.m. ET approximate/ESPN) in the nightcap of the Jimmy V Classic doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.
We all know that in the current fifth year of ACC conference play, and subtracting the NCAA sanctions of 2015 that eliminated the postseason altogether, and the spectacular four game run to the NCAA Final Four a season later, SU has yet to win an ACC Tournament game on a neutral court, and has only had one above .500 season (2013-14) on the road in league play.
Pretty remarkable considering how strong the Dome advantage has been historically in 38 years, watching the Orange struggle recently away from home against a mix of opponents from middle-of-the-pack to highly-ranked.
Certainly No. 2 rated Kansas falls into the latter category, and although the ‘Cuse had its moments in spurts each half of an eventual 16 point defeat, there was plenty to take away heading into another neutral court game this evening, even though MSG often resembles the “Carrier Dome South.”
“The atmosphere is going to be great (at MSG),” guard Tyus Battle said following the first defeat of the season. “Tough loss today, but that’s how the game goes. You just got to bounce back and be ready to go on Tuesday.’
The third meeting in three seasons against longtime Big East rival UConn is the rubber game following SU’s 79-76 win in the Bahamas two seasons back, and the Orange blowing an 11 point lead in the second half a year ago to the day in an offensive meltdown, falling 52-50.
For this year’s team, Jim Boeheim has plenty to draw upon following the loss to such a quality team as the Jayhawks, and even in defeat it provided a template for what to look for this evening.
“This game (was) a great learning experience for us and our young players” Boeheim said Saturday night. “This game was a great game for us, a great experience to figure out what we need to do in certain situations. You get down 21 to a team like Kansas and you can come back (to single digits) we learned something there. We needed to get to the basket and we did, but you got to make (your shots), and we believe we can stop people from the three point line if we play our defense properly.”
That sounds exactly like the formula to get a win away from home this season sooner than later.