Syracuse has dominated West Virginia in recent years, and the Orange desperately need that to continue as they look to avoid their longest home losing streak in 49 years.
The struggling No. 17 Orange go for their fourth straight victory over the Mountaineers on Monday night.Syracuse has wilted in the middle of a brutal conference schedule, losing six of eight. The Orange (20-6, 7-6) seemed ready to break out of their slump after upsetting then-No. 6 Connecticut on Feb. 2 and routing South Florida three days later.They have been unable to maintain that momentum, however, dropping back-to-back games to ranked teams. Syracuse fell 73-69 to No. 16 Louisville on Saturday after nearly erasing a 20-point second-half deficit.Brandon Triche scored a season-high 21 points and Scoop Jardine added 20, but the Orange couldn't overcome the big hole despite shooting 51.1 percent."It's tough when you're down on the road to come all the way back," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We made a great effort and got our offense going and did some good things on the defensive end, but you can't get that far behind."Syracuse hopes a matchup with West Virginia can help it get back on track. The Orange held off the Mountaineers 72-71 in Morgantown on Jan. 16, 2010, giving them 16 wins in the last 19 matchups.Triche scored 16 points in that meeting to lead Syracuse to its eighth straight home victory in the series.The Orange badly want to extend that streak as they try to avoid their longest home skid since a school-record 12-game slide from Feb. 22, 1961-Feb. 28, 1962. The Orange have won the past eight home matchups by an average of 13.7 points.Like Syracuse, the Mountaineers (16-8, 7-5) are facing a daunting stretch of games. After Monday, four of their last five contests will come against Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Louisville.After dropping back-to-back games to ranked teams, the Mountaineers defeated DePaul 82-71 at home Saturday. John Flowers scored 15 points to lead five West Virginia players in double figures and the Mountaineers topped 71 points for the first time in nine games.Leading scorer Casey Mitchell, who averages 15.0 points, had 11 after totaling seven in his previous two contests."We don't do a very good job of getting easy baskets," coach Bob Huggins said. "We're just so undersized."Huggins' team might catch a break if Boeheim adds another game to 7-foot freshman center Fab Melo's suspension for missing practice.Syracuse leads the series 32-16.