Villanova (11-4) at (7) Syracuse (15-1)
Saturday, January 12, 12 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carrier Dome (33,000) -- Syracuse, New York. Television: Local. Home Record: Villanova 6-2, Syracuse 11-0. Away Record: Villanova 4-1, Syracuse 3-0. Neutral Record: Villanova 1-1, Syracuse 1-1. Conference Record: Villanova 2-0, Syracuse 3-0. Series Record: Syracuse leads, 37-31.
GAME NOTES: The seventh-ranked Syracuse Orange put the nation's longest current homecourt winning streak on the line on Saturday, as they welcome the Villanova Wildcats to the Carrier Dome for Big East action.
Jim Boeheim's Orange have won 15 of their first 16 games, with the lone loss coming to Temple (83-79) on Dec. 22. Syracuse has strung together five straight wins and has opened league play with three wins in as many games, including a 72-66 road win at Providence last time out. The team returns to the Carrier Dome this weekend where it has won 33 straight games.
Jay Wright's Wildcats are on a bit of a roll themselves. Villanova is also undefeated in Big East play at 2-0. The team has posted seven straight wins since its last defeat, also coming against Temple (76-61). More recently, the team knocked off USF on the road on Wednesday, 61-53.
Syracuse has won two straight meetings with Villanova to open up a 37-31 lead in the all-time series.
Mouphtaou Yarou led the way with a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds, as the Wildcats earned a tough win at USF last time out. JayVaughn Pinkston was instrumental as well, posting 15 points in 18 minutes of work off the bench. Daniel Ochefu helped Yarou up front with 12 points and eight rebounds, as Villanova enjoyed a +10 rebounding margin in the game (42-32).
The Wildcats have been a streaky team in terms of offensive efficiency. Villanova is averaging a modest 71.7 ppg, but is shooting just .411 from the floor overall. Pinkston is the team's top scorer, averaging 13.3 ppg mostly off the bench. Freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono (12.5 ppg) has really struggled with consistency as the youngster has shown flashes of brilliant play, but not sustained dominance. Arcidiacono is shooting just .331 from the floor. He leads the team with 50 assists, but also has a team-high 37 turnovers. James Bell (9.9 ppg) and Darrun Hilliard (9.5 ppg) provide other scoring options.
The Orange trailed at the half for the first time this season, but rallied after the break to knock off the Friars in Providence this week. C.J. Fair led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Carter-Williams had a strong all-around game, with 17 points, six assists and five steals, while Rakeem Christmas poured in a career-high 15 points. James Southerland was strong off the bench once again, finishing off the team's double-digit scorers with 13 points.
Syracuse has really played well at both ends of the floor and as a result, enjoy an impressive +21.8 scoring margin. The team is averaging 79.4 ppg, while limiting foes to a meager 57.6 ppg and just .357 shooting overall. Four players are currently averaging double-digit points, giving the team plenty of depth and balance. Brandon Triche leads the way with 14.3 ppg. Southerland hasn't made one start this season, but ranks second on the team with 13.6 ppg. Unfortunately, he will miss an unspecified amount of time due to an eligibility matter. Fair is close behind at 13.3 ppg and leads the team in rebounding (7.2 rpg). Carter-Williams is the straw that stirs the drink however, averaging 12.0 ppg, while leading the entire nation in assists (9.6 apg).
The Wildcats are playing at a high level right now, but keeping it up in the Carrier Dome isn't likely. The Orange are getting it done at both ends of the floor, and even without Southerland, expect them to feed off the home crowd, keeping their win streaks going in the process.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Syracuse 71, Villanova 64
01/12 12:01:49 ET