Buffalo, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It may not feel like home, but Buffalo is a pretty comfortable spot for the third seeded Syracuse men's basketball team. It's about as close as it gets to a home game when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.
The First Niagara Center is just about 2.5 hours from the Carrier Dome. Believe it or not, after 32 games, Syracuse did something for this game vs. Western Michigan that it hasn't done all season.
"This is our first time we took a bus this year to a place, so it's pretty close," said guard Trevor Cooney said on Wednesday. "We've got great fans and they travel well, so to only be two and a half hours away from Syracuse. I mean I know we have a lot of fans in Buffalo so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing a lot of Orange here tomorrow."
The support may help get the Orange out of their current funk. Syracuse enters the NCAA's losing five of its last seven games, including a loss nearly a week ago in the ACC Tournament. During the off time, SU had a chance to evaluate what went wrong.
"Definitely on the defensive end is the reason we're on this slide a little bit, but at the same time we're going to come out and approach this game like it's our last game and hopefully we get the victory," said Jerami Grant.
Grant talks about Thursday's NCAA tourney opener
"We stopped doing the little things," Michael Gbinije added. "We stopped rebounding, our hustle went down, we didn't get as much 50-50 balls. That's something we've been focusing on the last couple days of practice."
As for Western Michigan, the 14th seed is no stranger to Buffalo either. The Broncos play in the same conference, the MAC, as the University at Buffalo. Earlier this season they lost on the road against the Bulls.
Broncos leading scorer David Brown hasn't been held to single digits in scoring since last years conference tournament. He averages nearly 20 points per game.
The game is set to begin around 2:45 Thursday in Buffalo. It can be seen on WBNG.
Web Extra Interview with Trevor Cooney