The main concern for the Orangemen will be Seton Hall's senior point guard Andre Barrett. Barrett's quick, small guard play and solid passing ability has engineered the Pirates' 11-4 start.
"He's quick but I just always play hard so it won't matter," said Syracuse point guard Billy Edelin. "He'll try to cross me up and I'll try to bring him into the paint, we'll see what happens."
If Edelin and the Orange can cut down Barrett's scoring (18.5 ppg) and assists (6.8 apg, 7th in the nation, 1st in the BIG EAST) to his teammates the Pirates will likely be the victims of a Syracuse blowout.
Against Chris Thomas, Notre Dame's point guard and a similar player to Barrett (19.2 ppg and 5.7 apg), Edelin and the Syracuse zone held him to just 13 points and three assists on 5-of-18 shooting. Forcing Barrett, who leads the BIG EAST in three-point field goals made, into a similar shooting performance would be a big plus for the Orangemen.
Meanwhile, the Pirates will have to key in on Hakim Warrick if they expect to keep it close. With a starting line-up featuring a frontcourt of Kelly Whitney, 6-foot-8, Andre Sweet, 6-foot-8, and Marcus Toney-El, 6-foot-6, the Pirates will be undersized and Warrick could explode over the defense for a huge game.
Sweet and Toney-El play a smaller game, stepping out around the perimeter and are somewhat soft defensively. Warrick should have no problem sneaking in for dunks and posting up for his patented fade away jumper.
Warrick has been consistent all season, scoring less than 17 points only twice in 14 games. He is averaging 19.6 ppg and 8.2 rpg for the year.
Another key for the Pirates, contradictory to the talents of Barrett, may be to slow the game down. The Orangemen are averaging 82.5 ppg compared to the 67.9 ppg the Pirates put up. The Pirates are holding opponents to 63 points per game, the third-best mark in the conference. If the game becomes a contest of who can hit more shots the Orangemen should take the game without much of a fight. St. Johns kept the game against the Orangemen low scoring, and consequently close, before losing 65-59.
The Orangemen have won 13 in a row and have started BIG EAST play with three victories including two double-digit wins over Boston College and at Notre Dame.
Some think Syracuse's biggest problem may be overlooking Seton Hall and thinking ahead to a showdown with undefeated Pittsburgh (18-0 prior to its game with UConn on Monday)this Saturday night.
"One game at a time," said guard Josh Pace. "In this conference every game is huge and Seton Hall is a good team. We have our sights set on them and we'll deal with our next game when it's time."
The Orangemen lead the all-time series with Seton Hall 39-13, and have won five in a row against the Pirates.
The game is at 7:30 p.m. at the Continental Airlines Arena.
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