first_imgEarlier this season, Frank Howard called playing on the road “our dream.” He relishes the travel because it’s an opportunity to fly cross country and just focus on basketball. More than midway through the season, Syracuse’s record has reflected its “love” of playing away from central New York.“Get to step away from classes a little bit, just straight focus on basketball,” Howard said. “We get excited for that stuff, and we just want to protect our name on the road.”Syracuse (17-7, 8-3 Atlantic Coast) will put its 5-1 true road record on the line Wednesday night at North Carolina State (17-7, 5-6). The Orange is one of 11 teams with one or fewer road losses this season, per TeamRankings.com. Two of SU’s biggest wins this season — then-No. 1 Duke and then-No.16 Ohio State — came away from the Carrier Dome. For SU to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse will need to continue its hot play on the road in Raleigh, N.C. and in its four remaining road games.“When you go on the road in this league and you can get a win, you go home happy. Period,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnna Henderson | Digital Design EditorSU’s first trip away from the Carrier Dome took it to neutral Madison Square Garden, where the Orange lost to Connecticut and Oregon. But those losses made Syracuse’s first true road game — in Columbus to take on the Buckeyes — that much more important. The Buckeyes had yet to lose, and OSU was No. 1 in the NCAA’s initial release of the NET rankings. But even a quick start from Ohio State was overcome by dominant play from Oshae Brissett in Syracuse’s second ranked game of the year.The Orange was home for the remainder of nonconference play, but two more losses made the ACC opener, on the road at Notre Dame, another momentum-swinging contest. T.J. Gibbs hit four first-half 3s for the Irish, putting SU at risk of a conference-opening loss. But the Orange adjusted in the second half to get stops and win that game, too.“To get an away win in ACC starting off,” Tyus Battle said on Jan. 5, “it’s good momentum for us.”That set up SU for its win at then-No. 1 Duke nine days later, when the Orange weathered an early 14-2 deficit and triumphed in overtime. Syracuse’s only road loss at then-No. 10 Virginia Tech was followed by wins at Boston College and Pittsburgh to keep its play away from the Dome a strong suit.Syracuse’s road success often shows at the foul line, with its best free throw shooting day coming at Ohio State. In four of the Orange’s six road games, they’ve hit at least 11 3s, a total that’s only been reached twice at home in 16 games. Battle’s two highest-scoring games have come on the road — 32 points against the Blue Devils and 31 points at BC.“It’s better walking off and hearing boos but we’re smiling,” Brissett said.It matters, too. Road wins can be the difference if the Orange are going dancing, or not. The selection committee has used road victories as a part of its past criteria, a big part of the reason that SU’s 2016-17 team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament.That year’s Orange, led by Tyler Lydon, John Gillon and Andrew White III, beat three top-10 teams in the Carrier Dome, inciting three court stormings. But a 2-8 road record cost them. There’ll be at least two top-10 teams coming to the Dome in the coming weeks in Duke and Virginia, but wins against them might not be necessary if the Orange can keep up their play on the road.“We find joy if a team is cheering against us,” Brissett said. “It really turns us up. It’s better walking off the floor, like I said, walking off the floor with a smile on our face and they’re going home mad.” Published on February 12, 2019 at 10:51 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more