Meet the Syracuse Orange

The Blue Devils will face the top team in the ACC on Saturday evening when they travel to Syracuse.





? F- 05 C.J. Fair (16.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
? F- 03 Jerami Grant (12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
C- 25 Rakeem Christmas (5.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
G- 10 Trevor Cooney (13.2 ppg, 2.7 spg)
?G- 11 Tyler Ennis (12.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 5.5 apg)

?Much has been made of Ennis' spectacular freshman season - one in which he's earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors three times (second only to Jabari Parker), while averaging a 3.89 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. Despite Ennis' strong play, the Orange's best player is small forward C.J. Fair, the 6-foot-8 senior out of Baltimore. Fair started the season as a first team all-conference selection and validated those voters by taking home MVP honors at the Maui Invitational. Throughout the Orange's 20 game win streak he's provided double-digit scoring. Fair will match up with Rodney Hood - another 6'8 small forward likely to go high in the NBA Draft in June. If you're looking for the premier individual matchup, look no further than Hood v. Fair.


  • There is plenty of hype surrounding Saturday's game. ESPN has made it their game of the week, while Syracuse is expecting a record crowd of 35,446 to fill the stands in New York. While there's plenty of talent on the court, there's historical talent on bench where college basketball's two winningest coaches -- Jim Boeheim (940) and Mike Krzyzewski (974) will reside. The two coaches have not only built a pair of powerhouse programs, they have collaborated on the national team staff for the last eight years to rebuild the Olympic program.

  • The overall series is tied, 2-2. Both Duke wins came in the NCAA Tournament (1965- 66, 1997-98) while SU claimed two regular- season triumphs (1971-72, 1989-90).

  • During the preseason Duke was picked to win the ACC, while Syracuse was picked to finish second. The Blue Devils had a well-documented swoon from late November into December where defense and rebounding appeared to be huge roadblocks. There has been no such drop off by the Orange who have won 20 straight games to begin the season. A win over Duke would not only give Syracuse a huge feather in the cap for an already hugely successful start, it would also set a new program record for wins to begin a season.

  • The trick for the Orange begins with defense. The Orange are holding opponents to just 57.8 points per game on 40.8 percent shooting from the field and 33.2 percent from the perimeter. On the glass Syracuse out-performs their opponents by 6.0 boards per game while forcing 14.7 turnovers per night - nine of which are steals.

  • On offense the Orange make their living by forcing turnovers and winning the battle of points in the paint. For the season the Orange are out-scoring their opponents 31-20 inside. When they aren't scoring on the blocks, Syracuse is forcing turnovers and converting said turnovers into 18 points per contest while surrendering only nine points off their own turnovers. And that +6 rebounding advantage? It's resulting in a 5.4 point per contest advantage in second chance points.

  • What has hurt Syracuse has been the injury bug. The Orange lost starting center DaJuan Coleman, a 6-foot-9, 280 pound sophomore who anchored the zone and provided 4.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Coleman is scheduled for season ending surgery on his left leg.

  • As mentioned above, Tyler Ennis has been extremely good in his first season at the collegiate level. Not only has Ennis been good relative to his positional counterparts throughout the nation, he's also been better than all the freshman point guards in Syracuse history. Ennis' 16.7 points is a program high for first year floor generals. His 5.4 assists per game rank third among Orange first year point guards behind Pearl Washington and Jason Hart. His 2.5 steals per game ranks second behind Hart, while his 1.8 turnovers per game rank first. Ennis is also the best freshman PG when it comes to field goal percentage (43.2) and perimeter shooting (40.0).

  • Duke, Clemson and NC State are the only ACC schools that will face all three league newcomers – Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse – on the road this season.

  • Syracuse, which ranks sixth nationally in points allowed per game (57.8), will be the fifth team Duke has faced this season that ranks among the top 20 nationally in points allowed per game. Duke has topped the opponent scoring averages of all four of the previous teams and is 3-1 in those games with the lone loss coming at Clemson (59-72) on Jan. 11. Duke has also faced Virginia (1st, 56.0 ppg.), Miami (11th, 59.3) and Pittsburgh (t-15th, 61.1).

  • Jabari Parker is averaging 20.5 points per game in four games against top-25 opponents. He has topped the 20-point plateau twice in those games – 27 versus Kansas and 21 versus Pittsburgh – and has hit at least seven field goals in all four outings. He has added 7.3 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.
  • In order to win, Duke will have to shoot the ball well including hitting from the perimeter. That's not easy against the length and intensity of Syracuse's zone, and will be compounded by playing in a dome. Still, Duke has weapons. Andre Dawkins and Rodney Hood are the top two three-point shooters in the ACC, sporting shooting percentages of .475 (47-of-99) and .448 (43-of-96), respectively. Duke is shooting an ACC-leading .414 (194-of-469) from three-point range as a team.

  • The Blue Devils will also need to play nearly even or better on the glass. That means help from Amile Jefferson and Jabari Parker. Jefferson has been Duke's leading rebounder over the past 13 games, averaging 8.8 rebounds per game during that stretch while Parker has averaged 11.8 boards per game over the last four games.

    Syracuse athletics contributed to this report.

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