The No. 2-ranked Syracuse Orange's sophomore center Fab Melo will return to the lineup Saturday, while his head coach Jim Boeheim looks to chase down a legend, as SU visits the St. John's Red Storm in a Big East Conference men's basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. (noon on ESPN).
The Orange (22-1, 9-1 Big East) went 2-1 overall without their inside presence, Melo, who missed Syracuse's last three games to take care of an academic issue from the first semester, while Boeheim looks to tie former North Carolina Tar Heels coach Dean Smith for third place on the all-time Division I men's basketball victories list (879).
Since defeating the West Virginia Mountaineers, 63-61, last Saturday, the Orange haven't played in a week. Syracuse used that time to get Melo back and to get ready for its upcoming schedule that features St. John's, and then hosting the No. 14-ranked Georgetown Hoyas, Wednesday, and Connecticut Huskies, next Saturday.
Currently, senior forward Kris Joseph leads SU in scoring with 13.7 point per game, while sophomore guard Dion Watiers is second-best netting 12.3 ppg coming off the bench. Melo returns to the lineup and is SU's leading rebounder (5.7 per game) and shot blocker (3.0 per game), while senior point guard Scoop Jardine is the Orange's best passer (5.0 assists per game).
In the last four games, Jardine has been fantastic compiling a assists to turnover ration of a staggering 4.7. The Big East leader, Notre Dame's Jerian Grant, assists to turnover ratio is 2.92.
Meanwhile, for the fourth straight game St. John's will feature a starting lineup that has five freshman. The "Fresh Five" are currently 2-1 overall, including a victories over the West Virginia Mountaineers, Jan. 25, and Monday at the DePaul Blue Demons.
Last Saturday, the "Fresh Five", which consists of guards Phil Greene and D'Angelo Harrison, forwards Moe Harkless and Sir'Dominic Pointer and insideman Amir Garrett, nearly completed a 22-point comeback in a loss to visiting No. 8-ranked Duke Blue Devils.
Currently, Harrison paces St. John's in scoring averaging 16.2 ppg, while Harkless is second-best netting 15.9 ppg. The duo has been impressive scorers this season for the Johnnies, as Harrison netted 29 points in Monday's victory, while Harkless has compiled two 30-plus point games, one of them coming against Duke.
Inside, the Red Storm will feature Garrett, a blue-chip prospect who joined the team in December, and JUCO transfer God'sgift Achiuwa. However, Harkless is the team's leading rebounder averaging 8.7 rebounds per game, while Achiuwa is collecting 6.0 per game.
Syracuse, which has won the last six games against St. John's, enters the game as 13-point favorites.
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