West Virginia searching for answers at Syracuse
(Sports Network) – The suddenly struggling West Virginia Mountaineers will
attempt to get back on track tonight in a Big East Conference clash
with the Syracuse Orange. Just a couple of weeks ago, West Virginia was
the only undefeated team in the league. Things have seemingly
fallen apart since then, as the Mountaineers have lost two straight
tilts and three of their last four, including an 81-75 setback to UConn
on Saturday. Prior to that contest, they dropped a seven-point decision
to Seton Hall, a mediocre Big East squad.
As for Syracuse, it has split its last six games to move to 6-6 in league
play, a mark that is much less impressive than the team’s 18-8 overall
record. On Saturday, the Orange did come through with a 79-66 decision over
Louisville, and they are now 13-4 at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse holds a 28-15
lead in the all-time series with West Virginia and has won seven straight
meetings coming into this contest. In addition, the Orange have won 17 of the
20 home matchups with the Mountaineers.
West Virginia connected on 50 percent of its field goal attempts on Saturday,
but the squad permitted UConn to knock down 57.9 percent of its shots from the
floor. The Mountaineers also suffered a 39-19 rebounding disadvantage,
including an 11-2 deficit on the offensive glass. Those negatives overshadowed
the fact that they finished with 16 assists against only six turnovers. Mike
Gansey was terrific in defeat, as he scored 25 points on 5-of-6 accuracy in
defeat. Kevin Pittsnogle added 15 points for West Virginia, which also got 14
from Joe Herber and 12 from Frank Young.
Only once this season has a player other than Pittsnogle or Gansey led the
team in scoring. Pittsnogle is a center with a guard’s shooting touch, as
he is netting 19.0 ppg on 40.5 percent efficiency from three-point range.
As for Gansey, he adds 18.1 ppg on 46.2 percent shooting from behind the
arc. The Mountaineers are posting 72.3 ppg while surrendering 63.5 ppg to
Gerry McNamara has started every game for Syracuse this season and is
averaging 16.5 ppg to go along with 146 assists and 55 steals. While those
numbers are impressive, it is important to mention that the senior guard is
only shooting 35.4 percent from the floor. Demetris Nichols adds 14.6 ppg and
6.2 rpg to the lineup for the Orange, and Eric Devendorf is contributing 11.8
ppg. Rounding out the double-digit scorers for the club is Terrence Roberts,
as he is posting 10.6 ppg and a team-high 8.0 rpg.
In the win over Louisville two days ago, Syracuse limited the Cardinals to
30.2 percent shooting from the floor and forced them into 18 turnovers.
McNamara shot the ball extremely well for a change, as he finished 10-of-16
from the floor en route to 30 points. Devendorf added 14 points on 6-of-7