Thursday, January 20, 2011

Orangemen Look to get Back on Track against Villanova

After losing their first game of the season on Big Monday in Pittsburgh, the #3 Syracuse Orangemen look to rebound on Saturday in the Carrier Dome at 12 noon against the #7 Villanova Wildcats. Villanova is also coming off a loss on Monday, their second of the season, when Kemba Walker knocked down a mid-range runner at the buzzer to give #8 UCONN a 2-point victory in Storrs, CT.

Ticket sales at the Carrier Dome have nearly equaled last year's NCAA on campus attendance record, with over 33,000 tickets sold as of Wednesday afternoon. Last season's match up, which Syracuse won 95-77, had 34,616 orange-clad fans. At that time, Syracuse was ranked #4 and Villanova was ranked #7. This year Villanova comes to the Carrier Dome sporting a 16-2 overall record, 4-1 in the Big East.

There are a lot of familiar faces on this year's Wildcat squad, most notably the Coreys. Corey Fisher (6'1" 185 pounds) is leading Villanova in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game and Corey Stokes (6'5" 195 pounds) is right behind him with 15.8 points per contest. Against UCONN on Monday Fisher scored a season high 28 points and has been shooting 32.1% from behind the 3-point line on the year.

Corey Stokes, who was cited for public urination 2 days before the game in the Carrier Dome last year, has yet to be caught pissing outside this season and has shot 43.8% from beyond the arc on the year. Stokes struggled in the game against UCONN going 0 for 6 from the floor in 38 minutes and made just 4 of 14 shots the game before that against Maryland. Stokes has made just 16 of his last 42 shots over the past five games (38%).

Sophomore Maalik Wayns (6'2" 185 pounds) out of Philadelphia, PA is averaging 13.5 points and 5.3 assists per game for the Wildcats. Wayns posted a season high 22 points against Maryland on January 15th and is averaging 15.3 points over his last 7 games. Also a sophomore Mouphtaou Yarou (6'10" 250 pounds) is leading the Wildcats in rebounding with an average of 7.8 per game along with 8.7 points. Yarou scored a season high 18 points against Louisville on January 12th while shooting 8 of 12 from the field and pulling down 11 rebounds. As a team, the Wildcats average 39.6 rebounds per game, which ranks 29th best in the nation.

The Syracuse Orangemen (18-1, 5-1 Big East) are hoping to have leading scorer Kris Joseph back after he missed Monday's Pittsburgh game with a concussion. Word around campus is that Kris Joseph is feeling much, much better and Orangemen fans everywhere are hoping to see him in uniform and on the court for Saturday's marquee match up.

After showing signs of life against Cincinnati, Fab Melo relapsed into his old self on Monday against Pittsburgh. Melo played just 2 minutes, the first 2 minutes of the game, and missed his only field goal attempt while grabbing zero rebounds. Baye Moussa Keita didn't do any better, playing six minutes while not putting up a single statistic.

Tip off for the #3 Syracuse against #7 Villanova Wildcats will be at 12 o'clock and the game will be televised live on ESPN. For those fans who are unable to make the game, be sure to follow @CuseConnection on twitter to catch all the updates as we tweet live from Marshall St. starting on Friday night and then live from the Carrier Dome for the Big East showdown beginning early Saturday morning.

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