Two SB Nation New York college programs, Syracuse and Rutgers basketball, meet in a Big East Conference contest Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. The Orange (No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) started the season 18-0, but has lost six of their last nine games. Syracuse is trying to find some consistency before postseason play begins, while the Scarlet Knights (13-12, 4-9 Big East), who are 1-4 in their last five contests, are fighting for an NIT Tournament bid.
Syracuse (21-6, 8-6) snapped a three-game home losing streak Monday night with a 63-52 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers. The story of the contest was sophomore guard Brandon Triche's 20-point performance. Triche, who's slowly emerging as SU's go-to guy, netted his second straight 20-plus performance and is clearly growing as a player as the season progresses.
|2010 - Brandon Triche||27||28.2||4.0||8.7||45.5||1.4||4.1||34.2||1.9||2.4||78.1||0.9||1.4||2.3||2.8||1.8||0.7||0.0||1.9||11.2|
Triche has needed to carry the Orange because the team's best player, senior forward Rick Jackson, is struggling. In SU's past three contents, Jackson, who's averaging a double-double (12.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game), has posted just 7.0 points and 8 rebounds a game. Junior forward Kris Joseph is still the squad's best scorer (14.8 ppg), while teammate senior point guard Scoop Jardine benefited Monday from Triche's performance. Jardine finished with a stat-stuff performance of nine points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Senior forward Jonathan Mitchell has scored 20-plus points in four straight games for Rutgers. Mitchell is morphing himself into the Scarlet Knight's go-to guy, but the 6-foot-7 forward isn't receiving any help from teammates. Not other Rutgers player is averaging double figures, but freshman forward Gilvydas Biruta has been the team's second-best player.
|2010 - Gilvydas Biruta||25||21.4||3.2||6.1||52.6||0.1||0.5||23.1||2.5||3.4||72.9||2.4||2.9||5.2||0.5||1.2||0.7||0.8||3.2||9.0|
Under first-year head coach Mike Rice, the Scarlet Knights averaging just 66.8 ppg, but are solid on the defensive end, allowing just 64.9 ppg. Last Wednesday, Jan. 9, Rutgers earned its first victory in four games by defeating No. 15/14 Villanova Wildcats. The Scarlet Knight followed that performance with a 69-64 loss to the Seton Hall Pirates last Saturday.