Orange in the zone heading into third round (Web Extra Video)

By Travis Eldridge

Orange in the zone heading into third round (Web Extra Video)

March 21, 2014 Updated Mar 21, 2014 at 5:47 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Peanut butter has jelly, Buffalo has its wings, and the Syracuse men's basketball team has the 2-3 zone.
But lately, that defense hadn't been quite what it was during the 25-0 start to the season.

That changed on Thursday, earning Syracuse a date with Dayton in the third round.

The Orange stifled Western Michigan, forcing 13 turnovers and coming up with eight steals. That was a big reason SU ran away with a 24-point NCAA Tournament victory.

On Friday afternoon, the players felt pretty good about that defensive effort and like any good team, they're all on the same page.

C.J. Fair speaks before Saturday's game vs. Dayton

"It was just activity. we were moving as a group, we were talking, we were communicating on defense, we were getting out to shooters not letting them get open shots," said Syracuse's Trevor Cooney. " We were making them make tough decisions. We did that in the beginning of the year, but we kind of slid a little bit and didn't do it as much. For us to be a good team, our 2-3 has to be like that.

Tyler Ennis confident heading into Saturday (Full Interview)

"We were just more active, that's the only thing really," said Jerami Grant. "We follow all the same principles that we've been going over and going through and it was just us being more active."

The word of the day on Friday in the locker room was "active." As the Orange's floor leader agreed with Grant and Cooney.

"Going forward I think we need to be a lot more active and aggressive at the top of the zone," point guard Tyler Ennis said.

For Syracuse that equaled a win against the Broncos, we'll wait to find out what it means for Saturday against Dayton.

The Orange will be looking to avoid the run of upsets, including third-seed Duke losing on Friday. SU watched that game in the locker room, and the team said it serves as a reminder of what can happen this time of year.

"It can happen anytime to any team in this tournament. It's as simple as that," said coach Jim Boeheim. "You watch those games last night and it was just a thread as to who was going to be playing and who was going to be going home. That's what makes the tournament great, that's what makes it heartbreaking."

"Dayton has beaten some really good teams this season and regardless of seeding, we can't really look at that," Ennis said. "Every team in here could beat anybody and you could get upset any night. We're playing a really good Dayton team, and that's what we have to focus on, not where they're ranked."

That game is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday at the First Niagara Center.

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