Men's Basketball: Orange battle tips tonight at Carrier Dome
The last time the men’s basketball team played at Syracuse, the iPhone and MacBook were figments of the imagination. But after an eight-year absence, Princeton (1-2) will return to the Carrier Dome tonight to take on the Orange (2-0), who are currently ranked No. 6 in the nation.
The Tigers look to build momentum in their young season, as they come off of consecutive home losses against Northeastern and Rutgers. They understand improvement is necessary if the team wants a different result on the road.
“The Northeastern and Rutgers games were tough losses to take, but they definitely allowed everyone to see the small things they need to work on in order to win those types of games in the future,” junior forward Will Barrett said. “But at the end of the day, they’re both losses, and we can’t take them back. We just have to keep improving and going about our business in the right ways.”
“We just need to keep battling,” junior guard T.J. Bray said. “We haven’t been playing great lately, but as long as we stay competitive and hungry, we should be fine.”
Syracuse’s strength on both sides of the court makes it probably the toughest opponent Princeton will face this season. Guard Brandon Triche and forward James Southerland lead a high-powered Syracuse offense that scored 88 points in its Sunday rout of Wagner and is expected to be one of the top in the nation. On the defensive side, Syracuse has shown increasing strength in getting around screens and forcing shots from the perimeter, signature components of head coach Jim Boeheim’s zone defense that stifled then-No. 20 San Diego State to 49 points.
But the Tigers remain undaunted by the task at hand.
“We just have to be sharp on offense and defense,” Bray said. “We can’t have lapses in the scouting report, and we need to limit turnovers offensively. If we let Syracuse outwork us, we’ll be in for a long night.”
Barrett said he is excited to face a team of such high caliber, noting that the Tigers have risen to the challenge against high-ranking teams before.
“I couldn’t be happier. I know for a fact that everyone on our team put in the hard work this past summer for games like this,” he said. “We’ve been put into these situations before, like our NCAA tournament game against Kentucky during my sophomore year. So we know what to expect. We just have to prepare the right way and stay positive because in basketball anything can happen.”
Against such a fast-paced opponent, Bray knows Princeton’s starters will also rely on the bench for support throughout the game.
“The guys that come off the bench for us do a great job of bringing energy to the game. [Sophomore guard] Clay [Wilson] is someone who can come in and knock down shots, which will be huge for us against Syracuse’s zone defense. [Senior forward] Mack [Darrow] is also someone who can stretch out the defense with his shooting. And [sophomore forward] Denton [Koon] does a great job of finishing at the rim in traffic. If all of us do our jobs, it should be a great game.”
The Tigers take on Syracuse at 7 p.m. tonight at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
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