Orange Meet Friars

Syracuse takes on its second ranked opponent in as many games as the No. 18/20 Orangemen (14-3, 4-3) try to take down the No. 23/23 Providence Friars (14-5, 5-3) Saturday afternoon.<br><br>

The Orangemen are coming off an 84-56 blowout defeat to No. 5/5 Connecticut. Syracuse lost its only other game against a ranked opponent when Pittsburgh defeated the Orangemen, 66-45 two weeks ago.

The Orangemen are coming into the game looking to get something going on offense. They've been unable to score against good competition and against Providence it won't get easier.

The Friars are second in the conference in scoring defense, holding opponents to 63.2 points per outing. The Orangemen enter the contest second in the BIG EAST in scoring offense at 77. 7 points per game, but have averaged just 61 per game over their last four games, three of which they lost.

Providence, on the other hand, is in desperate need of a win after dropping two straight to Seton Hall and then lowly Virginia Tech.

Providence depends a lot on the three-ball, having attempted the second-most treys in the league (415) and having made 153, the fourth-best percentage in the conference (.369). They will have problems against the Orangemen zone, which is tops in the conference in opponent three-point percentage (.285).

With the battle of opposites, best offenses versus bets defenses, the key match-up will be at the power forward position with two very comparable stars. Syracuse's Hakim Warrick (19.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg) will play against Providence's Ryan Gomes (19.9 ppg, 9.9 rpg). Both are candidates for player of the year honors and are tough to stop down low. Whoever wins the individual battle will probably secure the victory for his team; unless Gerry McNamara decides to show up.

McNamara shot just 2-of-17 from the field against UCONN for nine points, and has had several terrible shooting performances lately, with the exception of his 26 point outing against Virginia Tech. If G-Mac can get going Syracuse stands a much better chance of winning its first game against a ranked opponent this season.

Saturday's game between the two teams is the first since the 2001-02 season. Syracuse has won the last six meetings at Providence, and the last three overall. Syracuse leads the all-time series 37-8. The last time the Friars beat the Orange at Providence was on Jan. 25, 1994.


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