No ex-cuses

Maybe it's a good omen. <br><br> Last year, the Syracuse Orangemen opened up their season with a loss to Memphis in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. It was just one of five losses for the Orange who finished 30-5 and went on to win its first National Title.

On Wednesday night, those same Orangemen (minus Final Four MVP Carmelo Anthony and senior leader Kueth Duany) also dropped its season opener.

Led by 10 3-point field goals by junior Brendan Plavich, the Charlotte 49ers upset the No. 7 Orangemen, 96-92 in front of 20,268 fans at the Carrier Dome.

Same beginning, hopefully same ending. Well, maybe.

"If we play like we did tonight, we might have a chance to win 10 or 12 games this season," head coach Jim Boeheim said. "I had this fear coming in."

The fear coming in was who would pick up the 36 points per game produced by Anthony and Duany last season.

Although sophomore Gerry McNamara finished with a career-high 34 points, and was responsible for all eight of SU's three-point buckets, Boeheim said that others need to contribute offensively as well.

"Gerry's not going to shoot the ball like that every night, "Boeheim said. "We lost 36 points of offense and have gained zero."

Plavich who set a Carrier Dome record with 10 3s and finished with 31 points quieted the Carrier Dome crowd early and often. The 49ers shot 56.7 percent and held the Orange to just 35.3 percent shooting in the first half. Plavich connected on seven treys in the first half to lead his team to a 50-29 lead at the break. Plavich, a transfer from Vanderbilt, scored 22 points in the first half which matched his career high.

"When I'm open, sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad," said Plavich.

Plavich connected on his last 3-pointer with 5:33 left to give Charlotte an 84-69 advantage, but Syracuse rallied back.

McNamara, who hit seven of his career-high eight 3s in the second half, scored eight points to lead Syracuse on a 17-7 run. A hook by Hakim Warrick pulled Syracuse to 91-86 with 58.5 seconds to go, and a 3-pointer by McNamara with 17.8 seconds left made it 93-90.

Charlotte's Eddie Basden sank two free throws with 16.1 seconds left to give the 49ers a 95-90 lead.

Josh Pace was then fouled on a 3-point shot from the top of the key. He sank two, but missed the third. The rebound barely eluded Syracuse center Jeremy McNeil, and the 49ers survived.

Warrick finished with 20 points, Josh Pace added 15 points and eight rebounds and Billy Edelin had 13 points and 10 assists. McNeil had eight points and three rebounds and Craig Forth tossed in two and had four boards.

"We can't win too many games if we can't get inside," Boeheim said. "I'm at a real loss of how our big guys can be non-productive in this point in their careers."

The Orangemen were perfect at home last season with a 17-0 record.

The Charlotte loss was the second for the Orangemen at home this season. Syracuse fell to the Harlem Globetrotters in an exhibition game on November 11.

"We were a badly beaten team in the exhibition game and a badly beaten team tonight," Boeheim said.

Syracuse hosts Rhode Island on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

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