By KEVIN CHROUST, AP
Sun Feb 23, 9:49 PM UTC
Two losses in four days have Syracuse working from behind in its quest for an ACC regular-season title in its first season in the league.
The top-ranked Orange can still head to conference-leading Virginia on Saturday with matters in their own hands if they can take care of business Monday night at Maryland against a Terrapins team in need of a big win.
After a 25-0 start, Syracuse (25-2, 12-2) dropped a home overtime game to seven-win Boston College on Wednesday and fell 66-60 at No. 5 Duke on Saturday.
"This end of the year is important for us," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We flew through obviously and escaped a few times. We knew the end of the year would be hard and that's fine.
"These games help you. This will help you. This was a tournament game. This will help you. We played slow and you see that in tournaments. We've learned a lot and we'll learn a lot more. We know how tough our next few games are."
Saturday's game was the Orange's fourth straight decided by six points or less, with the previous three ending with one-possession margins. Some offensive struggles have contributed to that, as Syracuse has shot 35.4 percent in its last three, including a 6-for-33 mark from 3-point range.
The Orange aren't exactly a perimeter team, but they've hit two 3s for three straight games.
"I don't think we'll probably play anymore," joked Boeheim, whose ejection gave Duke the technical foul shots to ice the game in the final 10 seconds. "I think we'll just give up."
The Orange attempted just nine 3s against Duke, but they were also unable to take advantage of 16 offensive rebounds with only 10 second-chance points.
They now shift their focus to the only meeting they'll have with Maryland (15-12, 7-7) as ACC foes.
The Terrapins, heading to the Big Ten next season, followed losses at then-No. 17 Virginia and then-No. 8 Duke with a 71-60 home win over Wake Forest on Tuesday. Reserve guard Nick Faust scored a career-high 20 points while leading scorer Dez Wells was held to six.
"I'm proud of my group," coach Mark Turgeon said. "We had some guys step up tonight. Nick Faust was terrific. I thought his passing was great and so was his defense. He scored, defended, made free throws, rebounded and did a lot of good things to help us win tonight."
While Syracuse has been busy, the Terrapins have had a five-day break to prepare.
"They're a great team," Faust said. "We have a lot of time before we play them. We're looking forward to practicing and getting better."
Maryland begins the week in eighth place in the conference and in need of a big win to boost its postseason resume. It's an ACC-worst 0-5 against Top 25 teams, but this is just its second shot at a ranked opponent on its home court.
Forward Jake Layman acknowledged Sunday that the game would have been far more intriguing if Syracuse was still undefeated.
''Yeah, but there's still a lot of hype around the game," he said. "It's still huge for us.''
The Terrapins and Orange have met twice in the last decade, both times in the postseason, with Syracuse winning each.
Copyright 2014 STATS LLC