The Bearcats return home for a Wednesday night game against the Syracuse Orange.
After splitting two BIG EAST road games last week, the Cincinnati men's basketball squad returns to Fifth Third Arena this week for a couple of league games with the first coming Wednesday against the Syracuse Orange. UC plays Villanova on Saturday night.
The Bearcats are 6-8 overall with a 1-1 league record while Syracuse is 12-3 and 2-0 in league play. The Orange is riding a six game win streak and have one common opponent with the Bearcats. Last week Syracuse opened BIG EAST play with a 76-70 victory over St. John's in the Carrier Dome whereas the Bearcats lost by a dozen points to the Red Storm in Jamaica, New York three days later.
Jim Boeheim's Orange lost one of the league's top players on December 15th when All-BIG EAST junior guard, Eric Devendorf, suffered a knee injury, but Boeheim's squad has rebounded nicely so far and has won five straight since losing Devendorf's 17 point a game contribution.
Two freshmen, Donte' Greene and Jonny Flynn, have led Syracuse since Devendorf's injury. The 6' 11" Greene has already garnered the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honor three times this season. Greene leads the squad by averaging 19.1 points a game and also grabs 7.8 rebounds a contest. The talented big man also leads his team with 42 three pointers, hitting on 40% of his shots from behind the arc. ‘Cuse point guard, Jonny Flynn, averages 14.5 points a game and has dished out 89 assists to go with only 40 turnovers. Flynn is also an excellent shooter making 53% of his shots from the floor, 40% from behind the arc and 79% from the foul line.
Sophomore Paul Harris leads Syracuse in rebounding despite standing only 6' 5". Harris averages 9.6 rebounds and chips in with 12.9 points a game. Redshirt junior Arinze Onuaku is the lone upper classman in the starting line-up. The 6' 9" center contributes 14.5 points a game and 8.2 rebounds. Rounding out the starting unit is a third freshman, Scoop Jardine. The 6' 1" Jardine averages only 5.1 points a game, but since taking over for Devendorf in the starting line-up, Scoop is averaging 9.4 points a contest.
If Syracuse has a weakness, it may be in its depth. Since Jardine's insertion into the starting line-up, all five Syracuse starters average over 30 minutes of playing time a game. Only 6' 9" freshman Rick Jackson with 13.4 minutes a game and 6' 8" Kristof Ongenaet at 10.8 minutes get significant playing time. The top substitute in the backcourt is walk-on Justin Thomas with 7.8 minutes a game. All combined this trio averages less than 9 points a game.
As has been its custom under Boeheim, Syracuse has played almost all of its nonconference games in New York. Including its two most recent BIG EAST contests, Syracuse has played twelve games in the Carrier Dome with two more in Madison Square Garden. The only true away game was December 5th at Virginia where the Orange squeaked out a 70-68 win. The Orange's three losses came against Ohio State, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Tipoff is at 8 o'clock on Wednesday night at Fifth Third Arena, and the game will be televised on ESPN.