The Syracuse basketball program (No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the USA Today/Coaches poll) will try to avoid a two-game season sweep from its Big East Conference rivals, No. 11 Georgetown Hoyas, Saturday at the Carrier Dome (noon on CBS). Both teams, which are each tied for sixth place in the conference standings, are trying to earn a two-round bye in the upcoming 16-team Big East Tournament, March 8-12. The top-four teams in the league earn two-round byes, the next four earn just a one-round bye, while the other eight teams play first-round contest on Tuesday, March 8.
The Orange (23-6, 10-6 Big East) are on a three-game winning streak, their latest coming Monday at the No. 15/14 Villanova Wildcats, 69-64. A victory Saturday would place SU just a half-game behind fourth-place St. John's Red Storm and Louisville Cardinals, who each have three regular season games remaining. Syracuse, which owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against St. John's, concludes its regular season at home next Saturday against the conference's last-place team, the DePaul Blue Demons.
Junior forward Kris Joseph continues to lead the Orange in scoring with 14.7 points per game, but lately it has been sophomore guard Brandon Triche, averaging 17.4 ppg in the past four contests, leading the charge. Jackson, the Big East leader in rebounds per game, blocks per game and field goal percentage, is the team's second-best scorer.
|2010 - Rick Jackson||29||35.3||5.6||9.4||58.8||0.0||0.0||0.0||2.0||3.9||51.8||3.7||7.3||11.0||2.3||2.0||1.2||2.5||2.1||13.1|
Senior point guard Scoop Jardine, who has been SU's least consistent presence this season, has played well in the last two SU victories. Against Rutgers, Feb. 19, No. 11 tallied nine points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds in a 84-80 overtime victory. On Monday night, Jardine paced the Orange with 20 points, his sixth 20-point performance of the year.
Just over two weeks ago, the Hoyas (21-7, 10-6) defeated the Orange, 64-56, at the Carrier Dome. During that time, Georgetown had won seven consecutive Big East games -- the streak ended at eight -- and was climbing to the top of the conference standings. Since then, the Hoyas have dropped two of their last three league contests and are now reeling after senior guard Chris Wright broke his hand Wednesday night in a 58-46 loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats.
|2010 - Chris Wright||28||32.8||4.2||10.0||42.3||1.5||4.3||35.0||3.2||4.1||78.9||0.3||2.6||2.9||5.4||2.9||1.5||0.1||1.9||13.1|
Wright, who was the team's second-best scorer, is expected to miss the Big East Tournament and could return for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In the meantime, Big East Preseason Player Of The Year, senior guard Austin Freeman, will need to carry Georgetown. Freeman currently is the Hoyas leading scorer (17.8 ppg) and biggest 3-point shooting threat (40.6 percent). Senior forward Julian Vaughn (8.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 2.9 bpg) leads Georgetown's inside attack.
As a team, the Hoyas first in the conference in field goal percentage (48.9) and third-best from 3-point land (37.4).