No. 7 Syracuse looks to break out of slump at Florida State

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 6, 2014 at 12:15 am Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1 Florida State has likely had its home finale against Syracuse circled on the team’s calendar for a long time.For a while, it represented a chance to knock off the No. 1 team in the country. Now it represents a chance to move off the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament.But after the Orange’s 1-4 skid over the last few weeks, one could argue SU needs the win more.“We need to win, too,” SU guard Trevor Cooney said. “We need it really bad.“Going into the (Atlantic Coast Conference) tournament, which we’ve never done before, you want to go in on a good page. We haven’t been on the same page recently.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNo. 7 Syracuse (26-4, 13-4 ACC) travels to Tallahassee, Fla., to face a Florida State (18-11, 8-8) in its regular-season finale Sunday at 2 p.m. The Seminoles are riding a three-game winning streak, most recently beating the same two conference bottom-feeders — Georgia Tech and Boston College — that the Orange fell to in its last two home games. Like many other SU opponents this year, Florida State faces Syracuse in arguably its biggest game of the season — something the SU players said they’ve gotten used to, but clearly have been unable to match intensity-wise.“Florida State needs this win so it’s going to be like every other game, a hard-fought game on the road,” SU point guard Tyler Ennis said. “So we’re going to approach it like every other game. We need to get ourselves going and this is an opportunity.”The last five games have knocked Syracuse from a clear-cut No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament to likely a No. 2 or No. 3 with some bracketologists pushing the Orange out of the East Region. On top of that, sophomore forward Jerami Grant is still unable to practice with a sore back, SU head coach Jim Boeheim said.Grant did not dress for SU’s 67-62 loss to Georgia Tech on Tuesday after playing 26 combined minutes — all in the first half — in the Orange’s previous two games.“We have one more game and hopefully we’ll be healthy,” Boeheim said. “If not, hopefully we’ll be healthy when we get the to ACC tournament. And we’ll use that opportunity.”Teammates agreed there’s more to the team’s slump than the lack of Grant. The re-emergence of Cooney’s outside shot might be even more crucial for a team that’s shooting just 37.2 percent over the last five games.And the Florida State game presents SU’s alleged sharpshooter with one more chance to bounce back. He’s shooting just 26.7 percent from range in conference play excluding his 9-for-12 night against Notre Dame — the same rate at which he shot last season as a highly scrutinized scorer off the bench. “I’ve made a lot of shots this year, and you’ve just got to remember that and keep staying positive and keep shooting,” Cooney said. “I’m going to get good looks, and some of them are going to be tough ones, but I’ve made tough shots.”Cooney and Boeheim said they were happy with the shots he’s been getting, but Ennis said the offense could do more to get him open. This far into the season, opponents are able to recognize the double screens he’s accustomed to running around.The missed shots are likely the biggest difference in SU’s offense — the same one that shined against Duke on Feb. 1, and likely peaked during a three-game stretch at the Maui Invitational around Thanksgiving, discarding Minnesota, California and Baylor. Ennis and Cooney combined for 100 points in that stretch.“We’re a team that is really good, and can be really good offensively and defensively,” Cooney said. “It’s just about getting on track against Florida State.”A win, especially combined with the healthy return of Grant, would go miles toward preparing the Orange for tournament season. But with Florida State potentially playing to extend its season, the Orange will need to be better than it has been.Said forward C.J. Fair: “This season isn’t over. We lost some games, but we’re still in good position. I think we win a couple consecutive games to get us going.” Commentslast_img