Pregame Buzz: West Virginia at Syracuse

The 21-1 (8-1) Orange host the 15-6 (5-3) Mountaineers on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome in search of a second win in three games without center Fab Melo.

No Fab Melo, no problem?

That was the case when Syracuse defeated Cincinnati on Monday, but today's tilt in the Carrier Dome may be a tougher task with the West Virginia Mountaineers in town.

Not only does the Orange have to deal with Big East Player of the Year front-runner and WVU forward Kevin Jones, but big-man Deniz Kilicli stands 260 pounds alongside Jones.

Jack Cooley, who is 248 pounds and the same height as Kilicli, gave Rakeem Christmas and company several problems on the way to SU's lone loss of the year. Yancy Gates, from Cincinnati, also stands 260 pounds at 6-foot-9. He too managed a double-double against the slim front line of the Orange though the Bearcats were defeated.

Players to Watch

All eyes will be on the bigs for Syracuse once again with Melo still sidelined for off-the-court issues. Not only will Christmas need to duplicate his effort from Monday, but Baye Moussa Keita and C.J. Fair will need to play a big role on the boards against Jones and Kilicli.

On the outside, Dion Waiters is due for a big game after some lulls on the two-game road trip.

For West Virginia, the flow goes as Jones dictates. He is in line to take home conference player of the year for a reason, averaging a Big East-leading 21 and 12 to go along with a block and steal defensively. The senior creates matchup problems against many opponents not only because of his inside game, but he also sports a decent perimeter jumper that is tough to defend because of his high release point.

Key to an Orange win

Jones will get his points, but Syracuse has to limit the production of Darryl Bryant, also known as "Truck." He has not been his normal self of late, shooting a combined 6 for 29 over (3-16 from thee-point range) the last two games paired with five turnovers.

Cuse Nation Top Stories