The sixth-ranked Syracuse Orange put their perfect record on the line once again, as they pay a visit to the Arkansas Razorbacks as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge.
Syracuse has played just four games in the first three weeks of the season, but it has made every one count with wins in each. Most recently, the Orange took on intrastate rival Colgate at the Carrier Dome on Sunday and came away with an easy 87-51 victory.
Arkansas opened its season on a three-game homestand, registering wins over Sam Houston State (73-68), Longwood (112-63) and Florida A&M (89-60). The Razorbacks did not fare so well traveling to Las Vegas for the later rounds of the Las Vegas Invitational, dropping back-to-back games against Arizona State (83-68) and Wisconsin (77-70) to fall to 3-2.
The Razorbacks won the only previous meeting with the Orange, 96-94, in the 1995 NCAA Tournament.
Syracuse has gotten off to a fast start by draining 47.1 percent of its field goal attempts, but the real key to its success has been its play at the defensive end as foes are shooting at just a 33.5 percent clip, and it has yet to allow more than 57 points in a contest. It was more of the same for the Orange in the 36-point victory over Colgate, as the team shot 45.9 percent from the floor, and made up for a poor night from beyond the arc (6-of-25) by making 25-of-32 at the foul line. Coming off the bench to spark the squad with 18 points was James Southerland, who was 4-of-9 from three-point range. Brandon Triche (15 points), DaJuan Coleman (12 points) and Rakeem Christmas (10 points, nine rebounds) also contributed to the balanced effort, and Michael Carter-Williams (eight points, six rebounds) found the open man all night with 13 assists. On the season, Triche and Southerland share the team- lead in scoring with 15.3 ppg, while Carter-Williams (10.3 ppg) has been fantastic running the point with 9.3 apg and 4.0 spg.
The Arkansas offensive attack has been as advertised in the early going as the team averages better than 82 ppg, but it does so behind a modest 43.7 percent showing from the field (including just 27.8 percent from three-point range). The shooting effort against Wisconsin wasn't terrible (.410), but the Razorbacks were plagued by 29 personal fouls, which allowed the Badgers to drain 25-of-38 from the free throw line. In what has become a trend, B.J. Young led UA in scoring with 18 points, although he did so on a sub par shooting night by his standards (6-of-15). Young has been one of the best scorers in the SEC on the young season, netting 20.2 ppg on nearly 48 percent shooting from the field. Marshawn Powell is the only other Hog in double digits this season with 12.2 ppg, but he and Young have struggled from three- point range (a combined 5-of-23). One thing Arkansas hasn't had difficulty with has been turnovers, as it commits fewer than 10 per game while creating 18.4 takeaways per game.