Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The second-ranked Syracuse Orange jump into the ACC fray this weekend, as they play host to the Miami Hurricanes at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon.
Jim Boeheim's Orange are one of just a handful of unbeatens left in the country, entering league play at a flawless 13-0. Statement wins for Syracuse include topping Baylor and Villanova thus far. The team closed out non-league play with a 70-48 rout of Eastern Michigan on Tuesday.
After winning the ACC a year ago, Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes set their sights on repeating. However, with several pieces from last year's squad no longer in the fold, expectations are tempered a bit. The 'Canes enter league play with a three-game win streak in tow, including a 71-48 blasting of Loyola Maryland on Monday to move to 8-5 on the season.
This series dates back to the 1963-64 season. Syracuse owns a 14-5 advantage all-time, and leads 8-3 in home games.
The names have changed, but Miami is still playing strong defense this season, holding foes to 60.3 ppg on only .402 shooting. The Hurricanes are also edging out opponents on the glass, with a +3.9 rebounding margin. Rion Brown hasn't shot the ball all that well, at just .408 overall and .286 from behind the arc, but he does lead the team in scoring (13.8 ppg). Garrius Adams (10.7 ppg) rounds out the double-digit scoring threats, although Donnavan Kirk (9.6 ppg) and James Kelly (9.2 ppg) aren't far behind.
Miami was at its defensive best against Loyola last time out, limiting the Greyhounds to just .340 shooting, while holding a 38-27 advantage on the boards. Brown just missed a double-double, posting 17 points and nine rebounds. Kirk almost completed the feat as well, with 12 points and nine boards of his own. Kelly and Tonye Jekiri added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Orange ran their win streak to 51 straight non-conference victories at home, making light work of Eastern Michigan. Four of the team's five starters netted double digits in the win, with Jerami Grant and Rakeem Christmas leading the way with 15 points apiece. C.J. Fair added 13 points and eight rebounds to the cause, while Trevor Cooney chipped in with 10 points. Defensively, Syracuse put the clamps on the Eagles, holding EMU to a mere 31.5 percent shooting effort, including a mere 7-of-28 from 3-point range.
The Orange are known for defensive tenacity and limit foes to a mere 61.0 ppg this year, while boasting of a +5.1 rebounding margin and a more impressive +6.3 turnover margin. Fair, the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, is tops on the team with 17.4 ppg. Trevor Cooney has shot the lights out from long range, adding 14.3 ppg and converting 50 percent of his 3-point attempts (43-of-86). Grant (12.9 ppg) and Tyler Ennis (11.8 ppg) provide additional options at the offensive end.