By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carrier Dome (33,000) -- Syracuse, New York. Television: Time Warner, SNY. Home Record: Canisius 3-0, Syracuse 6-0. Away Record: Canisius 3-1, Syracuse 2-0. Neutral Record: Canisius 0-0, Syracuse 0-0. Conference Record: Canisius 2-0, Syracuse 0-0. Series Record: Syracuse leads, 45-24.
GAME NOTES: The fourth-ranked Syracuse Orange get back on the court after a week off to host the Canisius Golden Griffins as part of the Gotham Classic at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night.
The first year under head coach Jim Baron has gotten off to a fine start for Canisius. The Golden Griffins earned a 84-82 victory over Marist last Saturday to win their third game in a row and move their overall record to 6-1. Canisius hasn't been afraid when going into opposing arenas either as the Golden Griffins are 3-1 in road games.
Syracuse took care of Monmouth, 108-56, last Saturday to move to 8-0 on the season. The Orange are now one of only 12 teams left in the nation that have yet to lose. Syracuse has been especially dominant at home where it has five wins in as many chances. Syracuse's average margin of victory in those games is an astounding 35.0 points per game.
These two Empire State squads have met 69 time previously. The Orange have dominated the all-time series with a 45-24 edge while securing wins in 20 straight contests.
Canisius really let it fly from beyond the arc against Marist. The Golden Griffins knocked down 17-of-36 shots from 3-point range and outscored the Red Foxes 51-24 from long distance. The Golden Griffins shot just 43.5 percent overall and managed to connect on only 17-of-28 shots from the free throw line. Canisius was also the dominant team on the glass with 51 rebounds to 32 by Marist. Chris Manhertz (8 points, 18 rebounds), Harold Washington (25 points) and Billy Baron (16 points, 11 assists) all had stellar games.
The Golden Griffins are one of the top offensive teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, ranked second in scoring (77.9 ppg), while shooting at the highest percentage (45.0) in the conference. Canisius hasn't been as effective defensively with teams scoring 70.3 points per game on 44.6 percent shooting. Canisius brings in 35.1 rebounds per game and has a slim +1.5 edge on the boards. Washington (18.6 ppg) and Baron (17.7 ppg, 6.0 apg) are each scoring at a high rate. Both are strong shooters from beyond the arc, especially Washington, who has hit 56.2 percent of his shots from that range. Baron has also done a solid job distributing after coming over from Rhode Island to keep playing under his father. Jordan Heath (9.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) rebounds and scores relatively well and Manhertz (6.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg) has done a nice job on the glass.
The outcome was never really in doubt for Syracuse in its win over Monmouth. The Orange led 57-28 at the half and shot 51.2 percent from the field overall in the game. Syracuse had a massive 63-38 edge in rebounds and forced 21 turnovers which the Orange converted into 24 points. Syracuse also beat up on the Hawks on the inside by outscoring them 58-24 in the paint. Michael Carter-Williams scored 15 points and dished out a career-high 16 assists and was one of two players to post a double-double.
There's a reason that Syracuse hasn't dropped a game this season and that the Orange are so high in the nationally rankings. Syracuse has been scoring at an eye-popping rate (84.6 ppg) as the Orange are the third best scoring team in the nation. Syracuse shoots at a 46.7 percent clip and dishes out the fourth most assists (18.5 pg) in the country. The Orange are also dominant on defense, limiting teams to a national-low 32.8 percent shooting and only 56.1 points per game. Syracuse is also the second best rebounding team nationally (47.1 pg). Carter-Williams (12.4 ppg, 10.4 apg) has been sensational this season. He has posted a double-double in four straight games and leads the country in assists. He is the only player in the nation averaging more than 8.5 assists per game. Carter-Williams is also a threat on defense as he has the second most steals (3.8 pg) in the nation. James Southerland (14.5 ppg) spreads the floor with his ability to shoot from the outside. Brandon Triche (14.9 ppg, 4.1 apg) teams with Carter-Williams to form a strong backcourt and C.J. Fair (11.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg), Rakeem Christmas (7.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and DaJuan Coleman (7.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) have made the Orange a nightmare to deal with on the interior.
There has really been no weakness shown by Syracuse early on this year. The Orange dominate on both ends of the floor and have a ton of depth. Canisius has had a nice start but isn't nearly as talented as the Orange.