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December 29, 2012

Orange look to rebound

Bouncing back from its first loss shouldn't be difficult for No. 9 Syracuse.

The Orange will be heavily favored to extend two impressive home streaks Saturday night as they face an Alcorn State team that has dropped 81 straight non-conference road games.

Syracuse (10-1) fell six spots in the Top 25 after losing 83-79 to Temple at Madison Square Garden last Saturday. The Orange made 19 of 34 free throws, a season-long problem since they are the third-worst team in the Big East in that department at 64.9 percent.

"They made free throws, we didn't," coach Jim Boeheim said. "You don't like to say it comes down to that, but when you miss 15 free throws it's tough to win any game."

The Orange need a better effort from point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who leads the nation in assists with 10.3 per game but was held to six against the Owls while also missing 14 of 17 field-goal attempts. Carter-Williams made 7 of 15 foul shots after shooting 80.5 percent during Syracuse's 10-0 start.

"They didn't play off me and I have to get used to that," Carter-Williams said. "We have to learn from this. It's a long season.''

Syracuse will be looking to extend the nation's longest home winning streak to 31 - the run is already a school record - and win its 41st in a row at the Carrier Dome over a non-conference opponent. This contest and Monday's home matchup with Central Connecticut State are the Orange's final two before opening conference play Wednesday against Rutgers.

Alcorn State (2-12) figures to pose no threat, entering on an eight-game slide. Its last victory came Nov. 22 over Samford, and it's been more than 10 years since the Braves won on the road outside of Southwestern Athletic Conference play - a 67-53 victory over Texas-El Paso on Nov. 26, 2002.

This is the Braves' second game against a ranked opponent this season. They only trailed by seven at halftime before falling 91-54 at then-No. 14 Missouri on Nov. 13.

Alcorn State began this two-game trip to western New York with Thursday's 87-74 loss to Canisius. The Braves were outrebounded 41-25, giving up 16 offensive boards.

"Second-chance points and offensive rebounds were the reasons we lost the game tonight," coach Luther Riley said.

The glass could be an emphasis for the Orange, who were outrebounded 44-41 last Saturday. Reserve center Baye Keita had six offensive boards, but Boeheim felt that Rakeem Christmas should have fared better than grabbing just four in 17 minutes.

"I think the biggest problem I have is that I think we should get more offensive rebounds in those situations," Boeheim said. "I think Baye did a good job of that, I think Rakeem has got to help us more on the offensive glass in those situations."

The Orange will set their sights on high-scoring Braves guard Marquiz Baker, who's averaging 25.7 points in three games since his season debut Dec. 21. Baker, who has totaled eight games over the last two seasons due to a broken foot, scored 30 on Thursday.

Syracuse cruised to a 110-77 rout of Alcorn State on Dec. 3, 1982, in the only previous meeting between these schools.



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