SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Brandon Triche and James Southerland have one thing on their minds: getting No. 17 Syracuse a badly needed win over DePaul on their Senior Night.
It would do wonders for a team in a funk following three straight losses.
"The season is about pushing forward," said Triche, who has been part of 113 wins in his Orange career and needs six more to tie Kris Joseph's school record. "As a whole, we just have to be better in every aspect of the game, focus, and be more patient."
If there's any consolation, Saturday's 58-53 home loss to Louisville was preceded by setbacks at Marquette (74-71) and in the Carrier Dome to archrival Georgetown (57-46). Three losses in a week to teams now ranked fifth (Georgetown), eighth (Louisville) and 15th (Marquette).
The setbacks have sent Syracuse (22-7, 10-6 Big East) plummeting out of the top 10 and out of contention for its second straight Big East regular-season title. Syracuse's only remaining regular-season games are against DePaul (11-18, 2-14) at home Wednesday night and at league-leading Georgetown on Saturday.
"We have two games left, and what we really need to do is focus on those two games and work on what we need to and try to get a little bit better," coach Jim Boeheim said.
The Hoyas used staunch defense and a career-best 33 points from Otto Porter to snap Syracuse's 38-game home winning streak in front of a massive Carrier Dome crowd of 35,012. The other two games were there for the taking and the Orange didn't.
Marquette won behind Davante Gardner's 26-point performance in the middle, and the setback to the Cardinals - in front of a home crowd of 31,173 - was especially disheartening. Triche, a Syracuse native, struggled through 2-for-11 shooting and committed a career-worst seven turnovers. That game was lost in the final two minutes by sloppy ballhandling and a defense that left Luke Hancock open for a corner 3-pointer that snapped a 48-all tie.
"In the last two games, we've given ourselves a chance to win in spite of that," Boeheim said. "We've lost three straight games to zone defenses, so I would imagine we're going to see more of that. It's always tough to be zoned when you don't make shots. In the second half (against Louisville), James knocked a couple down. But we're not making many shots on the perimeter. It's difficult to win against zone defenses in those situations."
Triche had plenty of company against Louisville. The Orange's big men - Rakeem Christmas, Baye Moussa Keita and freshman Dajuan Coleman - were 1 for 3 shooting, did not attempt a free throw, and had six rebounds, two blocks and zero steals. In contrast, Louisville's Gorgui Dieng had 11 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks and two steals, and altered several shots in making the going difficult in the middle for Triche and point guard Michael Carter-Williams.
"I think coach believes in us, even though we lost three in a row," Carter-Williams said. "I believe we can play good. All these games were close that we lost. We just need to be more productive down the stretch. We are a very good team when we play our game and play smart."
Expect the emotions to be flowing for Triche and Southerland.
"It's going to be great. I've been thinking about it for a while," said Southerland, who had to sit out six games because of an academic eligibility matter. "I know my family is going to be happy to see me come this far."
"More than anything, I want to win," added Triche. "I can't really worry about myself. We've just got to win."
Syracuse has done plenty of that when facing the Blue Demons, taking the last six meetings, and DePaul enters this matchup with 13 losses in its last 14 games.
The Blue Demons suffered their fourth straight defeat overall and seventh in a row on the road Sunday, 83-73 to a South Florida team that had lost its previous 10 games.
Top scorers Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young both had 18 points, with Melvin becoming the 13th player in DePaul history to reach 1,400 career points.