Orange Hope To Get Back On Track

The No. 20/22 Syracuse Orangemen (13-3, 3-2) take on the Virginia Tech Hokies (8-8, 1-4) with a mission; to prove they can make a shot.<br<br> "

"People are talking about how we got outrebounded against Pittsburgh," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, referring to the 66-45 beating Pitt dealt the Orangemen last Saturday. "Everyone tends to look at the other things when it's really just offense. Poor offensive production is the big issue, that's it." During Syracuse's two-game losing skid (Seton Hall and Pitt), their first in two years, Boeheim said the Orangemen have relied on Sporting News Midseason All-American Hakim Warrick too much. Still, at Thursday's press conference Boeheim called on Warrick to produce more. "When you give they guy the ball for 20 attempts, he's got to be more productive and finish his shots," Boeheim said. "He's got to hit 10,11,12 of those shots." Warrick scored 16 points against Pitt on just 5-of-16 shooting. Billy Edelin and Josh Pace are two other starters that need to pick up some of the scoring load. They combined for just nine points against Pitt. "They were looking to score more earlier on," said guard Gerry McNamara, who looks to contribute more after having a week off to rest his injured groin. "But I'm not worried. A lot of guys have the ability to put numbers on the board. They just have to take it upon themselves to do it." Assuming they find their offense, Syracuse has a scheduling blessing, facing the perfect opponent for snapping a losing streak. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a four-game losing streak, having lost to No. 8/8 Connecticut, 96-60, on Jan. 28. The only major concern for Syracuse is senior forward Bryant Matthews. Matthews leads the BIG EAST in scoring, averaging 23.9 points per game. He also leads the conference with 45 steals and ranks third in rebounding, averaging 9.9 per contest. Zabian Dowdell is also scoring in double figures for the Hokies this season at 12.5 points per game and Jamon Gordon is averaging 10.3 points per game. Gordon is also tied for the club lead with 56 assists. The Orangemen have defeated the Hokies twice in three previous meetings at the Carrier Dome, and the all-time series is tied, 2-2. The two teams last met in 2002 with the Orangemen prevailing, 81-69. "We just need to do what we're capable of," Pace said. "Everyone has a role and job to do offensively. We haven't been doing it, but now is a good time to start."

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