GAME 13: Texas Southern (1-9 overall, 0-0 SWAC) vs. Syracuse (9-3 overall, 0-0 ACC)
ALL-TIME SERIES: Syracuse, 1-0 (Last Meeting 1997 - Syracuse: W, 85-73)
DATE: Sunday, December 27th, 2015
GAME TIME: 2:00 PM EST
LOCATION: Carrier Dome
TV: ESPNU: Channel 370 on Time Warner Cable (need sports package); Channel 73 on Verizon Fios; Channel 208 on Direct TV; Channel 141 on Dish Network.
ORANGE RECAP: The ‘Cuse came up with a convincing victory in their last game before the holiday break, 82-60 over Montana State. DaJuan Coleman and Chinonso Obokoh led the way for the Orange as their combined 24 minutes were the rallying cry that spurred the team on in both halves. Coleman was perfect from the field (5-5) with 13 points, four rebounds and a blocked shot. Obokoh, who has played only 39 minutes this season, found his way into many statistical columns going for 11 points on five of seven shooting, along with six rebounds of his own. Syracuse out rebounded another opponent (48-45), and in addition to Coleman and Obokoh, Michael Gbinije (17), Trevor Cooney (12) and Tyler Lydon (10) all scored in double figures for the Orange. Lydon (4) and Malachi Richardson (3) hosted the block party for the ‘Cuse with some highlight real stuffs. Frank Howard and Kaleb Joseph provided positive minutes off the bench with eight assists between them. Although the Bobcats weren’t one of the more formidable opponents on the schedule, it was a positive win considering all the players who were able to log minutes and contribute statistically. It was a resounding team victory which is needed no matter who the opponent, but especially finishing non-conference play with just one of these softer games left before the ACC begins.
TEXAS SOUTHERN: The Tigers come in as one of the more lackluster programs currently in the nation. With just one win so far on the season, over the University of Texas – San Antonio 91-80, they are currently on a five game losing streak (the second of more than four games this season). Among their nine losses thus far, include opponents of note such as: Creighton (Big East) 93-70, Clemson (ACC) 76-56, Washington State (Pac-12) 77-65 and Mississippi State (SEC) 86-73. Their most recent loss came on this New York State swing, losing to Iona (MAAC) 83-73 on December 16. Texas Southern is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), which along with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC); contain several of the historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that play at the NCAA Division I level. The Orange has competed against other schools of this classification over the years such as Alcorn State, Coppin State and Morgan State. Three players are averaging 10 or more points per game for the Tigers: Derrick Griffin (F, #23) 16.5, Malcolm Riley (F, #11) 15.9 and Chris Thomas (F, #2) 14.0. Griffin is a redshirt-freshman who also is a wide receiver on the Texas Southern football team. He leads the team in scoring average after playing in just four games following the conclusion of the fall season. He had 36 catches, 709 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Tigers this year. Will that translate into success on the hardwood? Seems possible at this juncture for Griffin after a small sample set. Texas Southern is led by Head Coach Mike Davis, who led Indiana (Big 10) to the NCAA title game in 2002 losing to Maryland. He also was the head coach at UAB (Conference USA) for six years prior. The Tigers score approximately 70 (69.9) points per game, but give up just over 81 (81.3). This should be a relatively easy contest for the Orange, if they do not play to the level of their opponents as is historically done.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
· Simply another win. A win over Texas Southern would give the Orange ten on the season, and halfway to the desired goal of 20 before ACC games begin. As stated in previous game previews, if the ‘Cuse can get to 20 victories it will give the selection committee some critical decisions to make. Joe Lunardi, ESPN Bracketologist, has not come out with recent projections since December 8th and still has Syracuse as a #6 seed in the Midwest Region.
· More contributions from unlikely figures. With Coleman and Obokoh leaving their mark on Montana State, and Frank Howard adding five assists in his 18 minutes of play; it is pivotal that more players are added to the rotation for the Orange. Once Head Coach Jim Boeheim returns it is uncertain if he will go back to his patented six to seven player line-up, but for now interim Head Coach Mike Hopkins has been working a variety of combinations to have players ready for conference play.
· You never want to look ahead of the opponent in front of you, but assuming that Texas Southern is as weak as advertised the ACC opening schedule looms for the ‘Cuse. Following Sunday’s game, Syracuse’s next four opponents include Pittsburgh (10-1, Away), #13 Miami (10-1, Away), Clemson (7-5, Home) and #7 North Carolina (10-2, Home). It will be a brutal stretch for many ACC road games this year, which include at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Louisville. So, it is imperative that the Orange continue to gel together and find their winning ways.