Syracuse didn't begin a stretch of five straight games against unranked opponents the way it wanted, but managed to emerge with its eighth straight victory.
The third-ranked Orange look for a better performance as they seek to improve to 22-1 for the first time in a matchup with visiting Providence on Tuesday night.Syracuse (21-1, 8-1 Big East) still leads the nation in field-goal percentage at 52.9 despite turning in its worst offensive effort of the season in a 59-57 road win over lowly DePaul on Saturday. The Orange failed to score at least 72 points for the first time and shot a season-low 42.1 percent."I don't think it's ever good for your team to stink," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We stunk. We played awful."Syracuse trailed by as many as 18 in the first half and was down nine with about seven minutes left. Scoop Jardine gave the Orange their first lead with a layup that made it 56-54 with 3:37 remaining, and Kris Joseph added a three-point play for their final points.The Orange fell behind early for the second straight game, trailing 18-6. They allowed the first 14 points last Monday before rallying for a 73-56 win over then-No. 7 Georgetown."We can't do that the rest of the stretch of the season because it'll come back and bite us," forward Wesley Johnson said. "It's starting to catch up with us."While DePaul chose to slow the tempo against Syracuse, Providence (12-9, 4-5) is unlikely to do the same. The Friars enjoy playing at a faster pace and are second in the Big East with 83.2 points per game.Syracuse was unsuccessful in its first game against coach Keno Davis' system last Jan. 28, losing 100-94 at Providence in the teams' lone matchup of the season. The Friars shot 53.7 percent and forced 21 turnovers to end a four-game skid against the Orange.While the dynamic approach helped bring Providence a win in that game, Davis felt his team was a step slow in a 92-88 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday. He believes his squad expended a lot of energy in an 81-66 victory over then-No. 19 Connecticut on Wednesday."We had a tough situation," Davis said. "We played so hard (against UConn) that I felt after the game our legs were done. With just a couple of days to prepare, you can do one of two things: work really hard in practice and try to prepare, or rest and recover and have your legs. I felt the rest was needed, so we didn't execute as well."Sharaud Curry scored a season-high 27 points and Jamine Peterson added 19 against the Bearcats. Peterson, second in the conference with 10.0 rebounds per game, was limited to five.Curry led six Providence players in double figures with 22 points in last season's win over Syracuse.The Friars are a different team with four new starters this season."We are learning as a young team with nine new players," Davis said. "We are learning how to react in those situations, and we haven't mastered it yet."