There was expected to be a certain amount of attention on one of Jim Boeheim's former assistant coaches for Syracuse's game against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night, but this was not what anyone had hoped.
Two days after the firing of associate head coach Bernie Fine, the fourth-ranked Orange welcome back former assistant Rob Murphy, who now leads the Eagles.
Amid an investigation into child molestation allegations, Syracuse (6-0) dismissed Fine on Sunday after a third man accused him of molesting him nine years ago. Fine, a member of the coaching staff since 1976, had been on administrative leave.
"The allegations that have come forth (Sunday) are disturbing and deeply troubling," Boeheim said in a statement released by the school. "I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step."
Despite playing in the shadow of an ugly investigation, Syracuse hasn't seemed too distracted.
The Orange won the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden with a 69-63 victory over Stanford on Friday. Senior Kris Joseph had 18 points and eight rebounds, Scoop Jardine scored a season-best 14 and Syracuse closed the game on a 15-3 run.
"We just went back to what was working down the stretch," said Joseph, who earned MVP honors with 38 points and 19 boards in the two games. "We played well. We played hard and came out with the win."
The Cardinal became the latest opponent frustrated by Syracuse's 2-3 zone defense, turning the ball over 24 times. On the season, the Orange are limiting opponents to 58.5 points and 37.3 percent shooting while forcing an average of 21.5 turnovers.
Murphy's familiarity with his former team's menacing defense doesn't give him a sense of encouragement in the opener of a nine-game road stretch.
An assistant at Syracuse for seven years before being hired by Eastern Michigan (4-2) in April, Murphy watched his team put together its worst offensive showing of the season in a 72-40 loss to Michigan State on Sunday. The Eagles shot 28.6 percent from the field, went 3 of 22 on 3-pointers and turned the ball over a season-worst 18 times.
J.R. Sims finished with 14 points and was Eastern Michigan's only player to score more than six.
That performance didn't sit well with Murphy, knowing his team is probably going to receive an even bigger test from the Orange, winners of 26 consecutive home games over non-conference opponents.
"I don't think it does much for us, Syracuse is a totally different team," Murphy said. "They're much more talented, much more athletic, much more aggressive."
The Eagles - who don't play at home again until Jan. 11 - defeated the Orange 68-65 in their only meeting, but that came Dec. 14, 1996. Eastern Michigan reached the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament that season while Syracuse missed the tourney.
The Orange were also unranked in the first matchup and Eastern Michigan has had no luck against Top 25 teams lately.
The Eagles have lost nine straight to ranked opponents since defeating then-No. 21 Michigan 89-83 in overtime Dec. 17, 1997. They lost to then-No. 2 Michigan State 96-66 last Nov. 12 and have been outscored by an average of 36.7 points in their last three games against ranked foes.