first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on March 10, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img NEW YORK — Andy Rautins has studied up on his Big East history. As he sat in a small cubicle in the Syracuse locker room following the Orange’s 91-84 loss to Georgetown in the quarterfinals of Big East tournament Thursday, he used his acumen to put a positive spin on the upset.‘You look at previous Big East records, when they’ve gone far in the championship games and the results haven’t panned out well in the (NCAA) Tournament,’ Rautins said. ‘We’re just going to take this for what it is, refocus, re-energize and get ready to do some damage in the Tournament.’Still, despite Rautins’ optimism, there may finally be some chinks in the armor of the Orange. Syracuse is on its first losing streak of the season at the worst possible time. The team now has to answer questions about how it can fix the struggles heading into the NCAA Tournament. And it is unsure whether center Arinze Onuaku will be available to help.With the quarterfinal win, the No. 8 seed Georgetown shocked top-seeded Syracuse at Madison Square Garden. Syracuse (28-4) is the first No. 1 seed in the tournament to not a win a game since SU upset Connecticut in 2006, and will enter the NCAA Tournament on a two-game losing streak. The Orange is also now 0-for-6 in its attempts to win the tournament as the top seed.Onuaku sustained a right knee strain after a collision with Greg Monroe with 5:07 remaining in the game. An X-ray after the game came up negative, and Onuaku was walking around on crutches with a leg brace from his ankle to his thigh. His status is unknown and an MRI will be taken tomorrow, said Syracuse team physician Irving Raphael.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘I think this is a time where we have to come together more so than ever, as opposed to falling apart,’ Rautins said. ‘The most important part of the season is here and we put ourselves in great position to do well in the (NCAA) Tournament.’After beating Georgetown twice during the regular season, it looked like more of the same for the Orange to start the game. Big East Player of the Year Wes Johnson came out on fire, scoring eight of his 12 first-half points in the first four minutes for Syracuse. SU held a comfortable lead for the majority of the first 27 minutes of the game, jumping out to a 57-48 lead after a 3-pointer by Andy Rautins with 13:43 left. The largely pro-Syracuse crowd at the Garden roared as the Orange appeared ready to open the game up.Instead, Georgetown went on a 24-6 run that changed the complexion of the contest. The Hoyas (22-9) knocked down open shots on the wings, and scored on easy layups off Syracuse missed shots and turnovers. Syracuse forced shots, and pressed the action at times.The key player for the Hoyas was Monroe, who methodically engineered the Georgetown offense. He took it to the hoop for lay-ups, but also passed exceptionally around the perimeter and helped find open men. He finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.  Monroe was also involved in the play that could alter the fate of Syracuse’s season. With Georgetown leading 72-66, Monroe went up for a dunk as Onuaku tried to block him. As Onuaku came down after jumping, he collapsed to the ground after landing on his feet. He rolled around in agony on the ground, grabbing his right knee as Rautins and SU guard Scoop Jardine stood near him. Rautins held his own jersey up to his face with clenched fists before trainers helped Onuaku off the court. Monroe scored nine points in Onuaku’s absence .‘He’s a key part of our team,’ Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. ‘I mean, he’s had a great year and he’s a tremendous player. We hope that he’ll be fine. We don’t know.’Even without Onuaku, Syracuse had a chance at a comeback. Two SU steals led to a layup and a 3 that cut Georgetown’s lead to 85-81 with 51 seconds left. Monroe missed two free throws on the Hoyas’ end, but Jardine missed a layup on the subsequent possession and the Hoyas grabbed the rebound. Georgetown bolstered the lead to 87-81 with two free throws, and Jardine again missed a wide-open layup that all but ended the game.While Georgetown celebrated on the court after the win — a win which gives them a 7-6 edge over the Orange in head-to-head matchups in the Big East tournament — Syracuse quietly shuffled off the court. When SU returned to the locker room the mood was somber, with low voices speaking into hordes of microphones. The once seemingly invincible SU squad is now reeling heading into the NCAA Tournament, which starts in a week.The Orange had rebounded with wins following its previous three losses (Le Moyne included). Thursday was the first time Syracuse couldn’t weather the storm following a setback. And its center, a key cog in SU’s seven-man rotation, might not be available either. Yet, despite it all, the Orange remains confident. ‘The mindset that’s going to set in for us is that we very much are a lot more hungry than we were before,’ Johnson said. ‘We have been on a lot of winning streaks and for us to lose two in a row, it’s an unsettling feeling right now. I think we’ll be fine going into the Tournament.’[email protected]last_img read more

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