GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked Syracuse Orange put the nation's longest homecourt winning streak on the line on Wednesday night, as they welcome the Providence Friars to the Carrier Dome for Big East action.
Jim Boeheim's Orange are currently among the top teams in the Big East with a solid 9-3 league ledger. Syracuse has kept pace atop the conference standings with wins in three of the last four games and enters this contest following a 76-65 road win at Seton Hall. The Orange are a perfect 15-0 at home this season and have won 37 straight at the Carrier Dome overall.
Ed Cooley's Friars will attempt to end Syracuse's successful run and come into this contest playing their best basketball of the season. Providence has won four straight games to move to 6-7 in-conference and two of those wins have come against ranked opponents in Cincinnati and most recently, Notre Dame (71-54).
Syracuse holds a 47-10 advantage in the all-time series with Providence and is 20-3 all-time in games played at home in this series. The Orange are seeking the regular-season sweep after earning a 72-66 win at the Dunkin' Donuts Center back on Jan. 9.
The Friars are not an explosive offensive team collectively, but they do boast of the Big East's top scorer in junior guard Bryce Cotton, who is averaging 20.4 ppg (12th nationally). Cotton also ranks among the nation's top-10 in terms of 3-pointers made at 3.2 per game (73 total). Forwards Kadeem Batts (14.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and LaDontae Henton (13.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg) give the team a pair of valuable frontcourt performers. Senior Vincent Council (9.5 ppg, 7.3 apg) is a stabilizing force at the point.
The Friars posted their fourth straight conference win with the victory over Notre Dame on Saturday, marking the first time the team has won that many consecutive Big East tilts since the 2003-04 campaign. Batts led the way offensively with 20 points. Cotton was right behind with 19 points, while Henton posted 13. Council managed just seven points, but completed a double- double nonetheless, with 11 rebounds and 11 assists. In the process, Council became the school's all-time leader in assists with 671 for his career.
Brandon Triche netted a career-high 29 points, leading the Orange to a come- from-behind win at Seton Hall this past weekend. Triche, who was 10-of-18 from the floor in the game, got plenty of offensive support, as C.J. Fair poured in 19 points, followed by Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland, who finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Fair dominated on the glass as well, completing a double-double with 11 rebounds.
The Orange have been at their best when they allow their defensive play to dictate the tempo of the game. Syracuse is allowing just 59.3 ppg on the year (30th nationally), on a mere .371 shooting by the opposition (fifth nationally). Offensively, Syracuse nets a healthy 74.8 ppg, thanks to scoring depth that features four players currently averaging double-figure scoring. Triche leads the way with his 14.9 ppg. Fair is a close second at 14.0 ppg and is the team's top rebounder (7.2 rpg). Southerland is a valuable asset off the bench with 13.5 ppg, while Carter-Williams is both a potent scorer (12.6 ppg) and deft distributor (second nationally at 8.0 apg).
The Friars are on a role right now, but winning at the Carrier Dome is no small feat. The play at the point will probably decide this one, as Carter- Williams and Council represent two of the Big East's best. The homecourt advantage may prove to be the deciding factor in this one, but Providence won't go away quietly.