A 16-1 record can make a lot of problems disappear.
Problems with turning the ball over, shooting free throws, and rebounding the basketball don't keep you up at night when your team is a desperation 60-foot prayer from being undefeated.
Yet last night the Syracuse Orange, ranked eighth in the country in both major polls, had nowhere to hide in their embarrassing 88-74 loss to the 12th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas.
The same problems which have been plaguing head coach Jim Boeheim's bunch reared their ugly heads last night early and often, resulting in the lopsided loss down in Washington.
After winning the opening tip, it was all downhill for the Orange, who turned the ball over on their very first possession of the game. It would be a sign of things to come, as turnovers, poor free throw shooting, a lack of rebounding, and, perhaps the only surprising letdown of the night, awful perimeter defense all added up to Syracuse's second loss of the season.
The loss last night featured a little bit of everything gone wrong, from guard Andy Rautins playing only nine minutes after inuring his surgically reconstructed left knee (although the injury was reportedly unrelated to his surgery and considered minor), to center Arinze Onuaku scoring only six points and being even less of a factor defensively.
The free throw shooting was atrocious, as the Orange shot just 10-23 as a team, including 1-8 from Rick Jackson, who despite his woes at the line was among the only bright spots for Syracuse, as he scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Syracuse inexcusably had more turnovers than assists (15-14), while the defense allowed Georgetown to shoot 12-21 (57 percent) from beyond the three-point arc.
After winning their first four conference games, the Orange received what will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to Boeheim, whose team doesn't get a break with their schedule, as Notre Dame (ranked 12/13) comes to the Carrier Dome Saturday.
The Orange than travel to Pittsburgh to face the number one team in the country Monday night before returning home to take on 20th-ranked Louisville a week from Sunday.
Although they still boast an impressive 16-2 record, the Orange can no longer hide behind their place in the standings, as the deficiencies which have been problematic all season finally caught up with the team that must figure out a way to correct everything from free throw shooting to protecting the basketball to getting their big man (Onuaku) more involved.
The end result last night was unfamiliar to fans of the Orange this season. However, the problems which caused the defeat were simply more of the same.
Until those problems get corrected, the only familiar outcome Orange fans might expect is uncertainty come NCAA tournament selection time.