(21) Cincinnati (16-3) at (3) Syracuse (17-1)
Monday, January 21, 3:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carrier Dome (12,829) -- Syracuse, New York. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Cincinnati 9-3, Syracuse 12-0. Away Record: Cincinnati 4-0, Syracuse 5-0. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 3-0, Syracuse 0-1. Conference Record: Cincinnati 4-2, Syracuse 5-0. Series Record: Syracuse leads, 7-3.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a thrilling win over formerly top-ranked Louisville, the Syracuse Orange return to the Carrier Dome to face Big East Conference rival Cincinnati on Monday afternoon.
The Bearcats were also involved in a tight contest against a ranked opponent the last time out as they took on then No. 25 Marquette and came out on top with a 71-69 victory in overtime on Sean Kilpatrick's last-second layup. The Bearcats improved to 16-3 overall with the win, their third straight following a brief two-game slide. In Big East play, Cincinnati is a respectable 4-2. The Bearcats play their next game at home against Rutgers.
Michael Carter-Williams finished off a fast break with a dunk and a free throw with 23 seconds left against Louisville to lift the Orange to the huge road victory. The win was the seventh straight for the Orange since its only loss of the season back on Dec. 22 against Temple. Syracuse is 17-1 overall, and at 5-0 in conference is the only team in the Big East yet to lose a league contest. Syracuse heads to the Keystone State next for games against Villanova and Pittsburgh.
Although Syracuse would go on to earn a No. 1 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament, the Bearcats were the team that captured the win when the two met in the Big East Tournament. The win ended a four-game win streak against Cincinnati for Syracuse, which leads the all-time series by a 7-3 count.
After dominating on defense in the first half to take a 29-13 lead against Marquette, the Bearcats allowed the Golden Eagles back into the game by allowing them to shoot at a 52 percent clip after the break. The Bearcats then trailed for the first time in the contest, 66-63, to start overtime but thanks to Kilpatrick's heroics, ere able to escape with the win.
Kilpatrick is having a phenomenal season for the Bearcats as he leads the team and ranks fourth in the conference in scoring (18.3 ppg). Kilpatrick had one of his best games of the season against Marquette as he scored a game-high 36 points on 11-of-23 shooting. Normally Kilpatrick is assisted by fellow guard Cashmere Wright (15.1 ppg, 3.7 apg), but the 6-foot senior missed the Marquette game and is questionable for this contest with a sprained left knee. That leaves JaQuon Parker (10.9 ppg) to take over as the team's second option, while a guy like Cheikh Mbodj (4.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.5 bpg) patrols the interior as the team's second-best shot blocker.
Trailing 68-67 with less than a minute remaining, Carter-Williams stole the ball from Peyton Siva and went the length of the court to slam home what turned out to be the game-winner for Syracuse against Louisville. The win was just the fourth all-time for the Orange against the No. 1 team in the country.
It has been business as usual for Jim Boeheim and company, as the Orange have dominated at both ends of the floor. Syracuse is scoring a Big East-best 78.5 ppg while also pacing the in rebounding as well (42.8 rpg). The Orange also lock teams down at the other end limiting them to just 58.4 ppg on the fourth- lowest opponent shooting percentage (.358) in the nation. Carter-Williams (12.1 ppg, 9.3 apg) is only shooting 36.5 percent from the field but he has still enjoyed a stellar sophomore season as the nation's leader in assists while collecting the fourth-most steals in the country. Brandon Triche (14.6 ppg, 3.5 apg) joins Carter-Williams in the backcourt as the team's top scorer while C.J. Fair (13.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Rakeem Christmas (6.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and DaJuan Coleman (5.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg) present a dominating frontline. Off the bench, James Southerland (13.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg) has been critical with his size and shooting range.
Syracuse could very well be the best team in the nation. Although Cincinnati has already knocked off a pair of nationally-ranked foes after spending time in the polls itself, with Wright out of the lineup and an always hostile crowd at the Carrier Dome, the Bearcats aren't likely to shock the Orange.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Syracuse 76, Cincinnati 68
01/21 12:59:57 ET