Thirty-three thousand-plus fans are expected to pack the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon as the No. 3 Syracuse Orange host Big East Conference rival No. 7 Villanova Wildcats (noon on ESPN). This is the second game in six days where the Orange (18-1, 5-1 Big East) have faced a Top-10 ranked squad -- Monday night, SU lost to the Pittsburgh Panthers (No. 5 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll), 74-66, and had its 18-game winning streak snapped. The Wildcats (16-2, 4-1) had their own 11-game wining streak ended Monday night, losing to No. 8 Connecticut Huskies, 61-59.
By all reports, SU's junior forward and leading scorer Kris Joseph will play Saturday after missing Monday's game because of a head injury, which he suffered a week ago against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Though the Orange put up a good fight against Pitt, Joseph's veteran presence was missed in Monday's loss, which featured SU giving up 19-unanswered points to begin the game. The Orange did rally and tied the contest earlier in the second half but didn't have enough to complete the comeback.
|2010 - Kris Joseph||18||29.9||4.7||10.0||47.2||1.2||3.4||34.4||3.9||5.6||70.3||1.1||4.1||5.2||1.7||1.8||1.3||0.7||1.4||14.6|
A surprise that came out of Monday's loss was the play of freshman guard/forward C.J. Fair, who came off the bench to play 36 minutes, net a collegiate-best 16 points and snag nine rebounds. Senior Rick Jackson had 10 points and a team-best 11 rebounds to earn his 12th double-double of the season.
|2010 - Rick Jackson||19||34.1||5.7||9.8||58.1||0.0||0.0||0.0||1.7||3.5||48.5||3.5||8.2||11.7||2.7||1.8||1.3||2.3||1.9||13.1|
The Wildcats are led by veteran guard play, a characteristic that has become a staple of head coach Jay Wright, who's in his 10th season at Villanova. This season, seniors Corey Fisher (16.1 ppg) and Corey Stokes (15.8) are 1-2 in scoring. The pair is also shooting well from three-point range. Stokes leads 'Nova in three-pointers made (53) and percentage (.438). While, Fisher is second in three-pointers made (25) and percentage (.321). Fisher is the distributor, averaging 4.8 assists-per game. Stokes averages just 1.6.
As a team, the Wildcats rank fifth in the conference in scoring at 76.6 ppg.