Following a long layoff, Syracuse’s top two scorers came out flat their last time out. Hopefully, a short turnaround can help them find their rhythm.
Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris look to bounce back from subpar performances, and help the 11th-ranked Orange open with 10 wins for the first time in nine years when they host Cleveland State on Monday night.
Syracuse (9-0) is coming off a 79-55 win over Long Beach State on Saturday - its first game since an 88-78 victory over Cornell on Dec. 3. It was evident Flynn and Harris hadn’t played in 10 days, as they combined for just three first-half points.
Flynn, averaging a team-high 18.3 points, finished with a season-low nine on 2-of-7 shooting, while Harris also had a season-low five points on 1-of-5 shooting to drop his season average to 13.7 points.
“Us being deep won us the game,” Harris said. “We just weren’t ready to play.”
The Orange need to find a way to be prepared, as they now have four games in eight days before starting Big East play on Dec. 30 against Seton Hall.
Despite little production from its top two scorers, Syracuse still managed to open with nine consecutive wins for the first time since 2001-02. The Orange have not started a season 10-0 since the 1999-2000 team won their first 19.
With Flynn and Harris struggling their last time out, Arinze Onuaku and Eric Devendorf each had solid outings. Onuaku made all seven of his shots and finished with a game-high 17 points, while Devendorf added 13 and five assists.
Devendorf also is dealing with an off-court altercation, as he allegedly hit a female student in the face. He could be suspended, but the junior guard showed no sign that he was distracted on Saturday, playing 24 minutes with no turnovers.
“Eric doesn’t let external things bother him,” said Andy Rautins, who scored 13 points. “We stick together as a team.”
Devendorf, who has made 71 starts in his career and is averaging 14.0 points this season, is a big part of a high-powered offense that is averaging 83.4 points.
The Orange look to keep up the intensity against Cleveland State (6-4), which boasts a defense allowing an average of 48.0 points in four games this month.
The Vikings’ offense, meanwhile, finally broke out of their funk in Saturday’s 66-47 win over Marist. Cleveland State shot 56.0 percent against the Red Foxes after averaging 45.5 points on 29.4 percent shooting in losing its previous two games.
Senior forward J’Nathan Bullock had 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting on Saturday. Bullock, who is averaging a team-high 13.5 points, had scored 15 on 5-of-19 shooting in the last two games.
The Vikings played three games involving a ranked team last season - all against Horizon rival Butler. Cleveland State defeated the Bulldogs at home, but lost by a combined 20 points in the other two meetings.
Since 2002-03, the Vikings have lost all seven road games against ranked opponents by an average of 21.3 points.
This will be the first meeting between Syracuse and Cleveland State.