Syracuse prepares for a Valentine's Day battle with West Virginia

After losing three consecutive home games and two consecutive road games, the Orange are hoping to stop the bleeding Monday night as they host Big East rival West Virginia.

Following a disappointing loss to Louisville Saturday, Syracuse returns home to the Carrier Dome to play Big East foe West Virginia. The Orange are looking to pick up a home win for the first time in more than a month, since beating Cincinnati January 15.  

After its 18-0 start to the season, the Orange (20-6, 7-6) have won only two of their last eight games. During this stretch, defense has been a major issue, as the Orange are allowing 11 more points per game than they did during their first 20 games. 

“We’ll be ready Monday night,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the loss to Louisville.

West Virginia is coming off a win against DePaul, but the Mountaineers are now entering one of their toughest stretches of the season. Starting with Syracuse, the Mountaineers (16-8, 7-5) will face five top-15 ranked teams in their next six games to finish Big East play. 

WVU is led by the quick trigger of senior guard Casey Mitchell. Mitchell enters the game averaging a team-leading 15 points per game, but has played limited minutes since his return from a suspension after violating team rules. 

Junior forward Kevin Jones and guard Daryl “Truck” Bryant add a scoring punch as well, as they are averaging 13 and 10 points a game, respectively. 

Despite WVU’s lack of height – their two starting bigs are both under 6-feet, 10-inches tall – the Mountaineers rebound the ball well. Thanks to their toughness and athleticism, they could pose an inside threat to the Orange.

Similar to the past eight games, this one will come down to whether or not Syracuse can stop the opponents from shooting a high percentage. 

“Against the zone, you got to keep making shots,” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said in a press conference following the DePaul game.

One positive note for the Orange, WVU is not an extremely talented outside-shooting team. The Mountaineers are shooting only 32 percent from 3-point land. Casey Mitchell is its only true 3-point shooting threat and the only player on the squad shooting above 35 percent from long range. It would require WVU’s best shooting performance of the season to match the shooting clinic that Louisville and Georgetown put on the Orange last week. 

Syracuse will be looking to get senior Rick Jackson back on track after two consecutive games where he failed to reach his usual double figures in scoring and rebounding. 

Leading scorer Kris Joseph will also have to be more assertive for the Orange after taking only five shots in the previous game against Louisville. Meanwhile, guards Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine will both look to build on their success from Saturday’s game, where they shot 15-of-23 from the floor.

The Orange - and its fans - will look to impress and leave the Dome with a win after its Valentine’s Day date with the West Virginia Mountaineers.


I really like how you wrote this article. I love how you pointed out the lackluster 3 point shooting from the WVU team and how that is a positive note for the Orange. #TD2M

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