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No. 17 SU desperate for win on Senior Night

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SYRACUSE — 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) with a combined record of 69-16.

The losses have sent Syracuse (22-7, 10-6 Big East) plummeting out of the top 10 and out of contention for their second straight Big East regular-season title. Syracuse’s only remaining regular-season games are against DePaul (11-18, 2-14) at home tonight and at league-leading Georgetown (23-4, 13-3) 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 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.”

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.

Hopkins Eyes USC

Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins, a native of San Mateo, Calif., has reportedly interviewed for the vacant head coaching job at the University of Southern California.

The Los Angeles Times said a person with knowledge of the situation told them the Hopkins nterview has already been conducted. Hopkins played high school basketball at Mater Dei High School in Laguna Hills, Calif.

Boeheim confirmed the report to Syracuse.com. “I know he interviewed for that job,” Boeheim said. “It’s a good job, he’s from Southern California, it’s up to him, it’s his decision.”

Boeheim also spoke about the possibility of losing his top assistant on the “Upon Further Review” radio show on Tuesday night. “He’s a tremendous young coach and he’s interested in going back to Southern California.”

When asked if he’d like Hopkins to succeed him: “We’d like that to happen, it’s just a question of what he wants,” Boeheim said. “What I want is not important. It’s what coach Hopkins wants to do is that’s important.”

Hopkins played at SU from 1989-1993 and has been an assistant coach under Boeheim from 1995-present.

Kevin O’Neill, a Chateaugay native, was fired by USC in January.

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