Recent struggles haven't worried Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. Brandon Triche's recent play may be providing some comfort.
Triche looks to continue his superb individual play Saturday as No. 17 Syracuse attempts to continue its home dominance of Rutgers.
The Orange (21-6, 8-6 Big East) have dropped six of nine following an 18-0 start, and avoided a four-game home losing streak by beating West Virginia 63-52 at the Carrier Dome on Monday.
Boeheim attributes the losses not entirely to his own team's weakness, but to playing in the hyper-competitive Big East.
"I think people think the season's over. The season's over when we play 18 games in the league," Boeheim said. "We lost four games to teams in the top 15 in the country. I think if we keep things in perspective, we're probably a little bit ahead at this stage of the season. Sometimes I think we need to keep perspective a little bit.
"You can lose every game in this league, but I don't think you can win every game in this league."
Triche's emergence is another reason Boeheim doesn't seem too concerned. The sophomore, known for his strong defensive play, followed up a season-high 21-point effort in last Saturday's 73-69 loss to No. 16 Louisville with 20 points against the Mountaineers.
He shot 56.0 percent over those two games, including 6 of 14 from 3-point range.
"It takes a year for most college players to get accustomed to what the game's about," Boeheim said. "He had a solid freshman year. He's making the normal progression. It takes most kids into their sophomore year at least to get comfortable. I think Brandon is ahead of schedule."
Triche made 5 of 9 shots - 2 of 3 3-pointers - for 12 points in an 81-65 win at Rutgers (13-12, 4-9) on Jan. 13, 2010, as Syracuse ran its winning streak in this series to 10.
The Orange are 36-9 all-time against the Scarlet Knights, including 21-1 at home. They've won 14 straight home meetings since a loss in February 1975, the season before Boeheim took the helm.
A letdown is still on the Syracuse coach's mind, however.
"Rutgers can play with anyone," Boeheim said, citing Rutgers' stunning 77-76 win over then-ninth-ranked Villanova on Feb. 9. "I saw them beat Villanova. They play great basketball. Even if you play well you can have a problem. That is just the nature of the league and you have to be ready for that."
The Scarlet Knights have lost five of six, but the last four losses have come by an average of 4.2 points. They dropped another close contest last Saturday, falling 69-64 to Seton Hall. Coach Mike Rice wasn't pleased with Rutgers' 18 turnovers.
"You finally get people to say nice things about you and this is how you respond," he said. "Very disappointing as far as that goes. We build a little momentum and just didn't have any fight."
Rutgers has turned the ball over 42 times in its last two meetings with Syracuse, which ranks second in the Big East with an average of 8.7 steals after getting 13 against the Mountaineers.
Scarlet Knights senior forward Jonathan Mitchell is averaging 23.5 points on 61.4-percent shooting over his last four games, making 16 of 27 3-pointers in that stretch.
Syracuse held Mitchell to nine points last season.