Central Connecticut State (4-6) at (7) Syracuse (11-1)
Monday, December 31, 3 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carrier Dome (33,000) -- Syracuse, New York. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: CCSU 1-2, SU 9-0. Away Record: CCSU 3-3, SU 2-0. Neutral Record: CCSU 0-1, SU 0-1. Conference Record: CCSU 0-0, SU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Syracuse Orange look to end 2012 on a good note as they host the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils in a non-conference tilt at the Carrier Dome, a game in which head coach Jim Boeheim can move into a second- place tie on the all-time wins list.
Howie Dickenman's Blue Devils lost for the third time in a row on Friday as they came up short against Saint Peter's, 71-69. This will be the second visit to a ranked foe this month for CCSU, as it suffered a 31-point loss to Indiana in Bloomington on Dec. 9. The Blue Devils are adept on the offensive end with an average of 73.9 points per game on 43.7 percent shooting from the field, but they are weak defensively, allowing a generous 77.2 ppg.
The Orange recovered from their first loss of the season with a 57-36 rout of Alcorn State on Friday to improve to 11-1. The win came after Jim Boeheim's squad dropped an 83-79 decision to Temple at Madison Square Garden and moved Boeheim (901) just one win behind Bobby Knight (902) for second-place on the NCAA's all-time wins list. The Orange have notched notable victories over San Diego State, Canisius, and Detroit already. Syracuse is a proven force that carries impressive averages of 80.8 points, 43.8 rebounds, and 17.2 assists per contest. Its opponents are not coming close with 58.1 points, 35.1 boards, and 12.8 helpers per outing.
This will be the first meeting between these teams on the hardwood.
CCSU was tied 69-69 with the Peacocks until Saint Peter's Patrick Jackson drained the go-ahead jumper with 11 seconds left to bury the Blue Devils. Adonis Burbage paced CCSU with 25 points, Kyle Vinales scored 16, and Malcolm McMillan contributed 11 to the losing effort. The Blue Devils were exposed as a weak rebounding unit in the contest as SPC held a 51-32 edge on the boards to overcome its 36.1 percent shooting from the floor. Vinales is leading the team with 21.4 points and 3.5 assists per outing. Matt Hunter is also a serviceable contributor with 19 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds per game.
Syracuse overcame a second half deficit versus Alcorn State after it took a 32-16 lead into the intermission as it failed to score a field goal over the first eight-plus minutes of the second half. C.J. Fair led a balanced Syracuse scoring attack with 13 points, Trevor Cooney donated 12 points off the bench, while DaJuan Coleman added eight points and six rebounds in the victory. Senior forward James Southerland is netting a team-best 14 ppg thanks to his 27 makes from beyond the arc while Brandon Triche (13.9 ppg) and C.J. Fair (12.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) are doing their part from the forward slots. The team is being guided by the top-notch play of sophomore Michael Carter-Williams, who is averaging a double-double with 11.8 points and a Division I leading 9.9 assists per game.
Syracuse's offense was not completely in sync its last time out, but it showed it can step it up on the defensive end to win games. CCSU is going to need an overwhelming performance to pull off the upset in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Syracuse 76, Central Connecticut State 51
12/31 14:21:40 ET