The Syracuse Orange put a couple of lengthy win streaks on the line on Monday night, as the upstart Eastern Michigan Eagles come to the Carrier Dome for a non-conference clash.
Eastern Michigan, which is coached by former Syracuse assistant Rob Murphy and features former Orange center Da'Shonte Riley, bring a 5-1 record into this contest, although the Eagles haven't really beaten what anyone would consider a top-notch opponent. The team is riding a four-game win streak, but facing the likes of Eastern Illinois, IPFW, Texas-Pan American and NAIA member Madonna is a far cry from the competition it will face on Monday night, as well as during the bulk of its Mid-American Conference schedule.
Syracuse is a perfect 5-0, with its first four wins coming by double digits. The Orange were most recently in action last Friday at Arkansas, and claimed a 91-82 victory as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge. SU is coached by the legendary Jim Boeheim, who is just five wins shy of 900 for his career. Syracuse has won 47 consecutive regular-season, non-conference games. Additionally, the Orange have won a school-record 25 straight home games, which matches Kansas for the longest active home winning streak in the nation. Syracuse will lift the lid on the Big East Conference portion of its schedule on Jan. 2, 2013 at home versus Rutgers.
The all-time series between EMU and SU is knotted at 1-1, and the Orange beat up on the Eagles last season, also at the Carrier Dome, 84-48.
Eastern Michigan's strength this season has been its ability to shut down the opposition, the team yielding a mere 52.7 ppg. Foes are shooting just 36.3 percent from the floor, which includes a poor 27.5 percent showing from three- point range. The team has also proven to be an opportunistic bunch in coming up with 15 turnovers per outing. At the offensive end, the Eagles are netting only 62.0 ppg in draining 42.7 percent of their field goal attempts, with a 31.8 percent effort from beyond the arc included in that figure. Daylen Harrison (14.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg), Derek Thompson (12.8 ppg) and Glenn Bryant (10.8 ppg) are all averaging double figures in the scoring column for EMU, while Riley serves as the team's leading rebounder (7.2 rpg), but doesn't offer much in the way of offensive production (3.8 ppg). In the 75-57 win over Madonna, Harrison scored 17 points, while Bryant and Ray Lee each notched new career highs with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Lee also added six assists and Riley grabbed a career-high 13 boards for the Eagles, who shot just 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from long range, but held their overmatched opponent to 35.2 percent field goal efficiency despite the fact that it knocked down 12 three- pointers. Madonna was guilty of 21 turnovers on the night.
Syracuse has had very little trouble disposing of the opposition here in the early part of the 2012-13 campaign, boasting averages of 80.2 ppg on offense and just 58.4 ppg at the defensive end. While the team's overall field goal percentage (.474) is solid, the three-point shot (.311) hasn't been nearly as effective. Still, the Orange own favorable margins in both rebounding (+8.2) and turnovers (+3.8), and there are four double-digit scorers on the roster, led by James Southerland and his 19.2 ppg. Southerland does all his damage coming off the bench for Boeheim's bunch, as he shooting 61.8 percent from the floor and has as many three-point baskets (18) as his closest teammate has attempts. Brandon Triche (15.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.0 apg), Michael Carter-Williams (11.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 9.2 apg, 3.8 spg) and C.J. Fair (11.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg) round out the offensive-minded quartet, and they all bring a little something extra to the table, as Carter-Williams is the national leader in assists average. Southerland was on fire in the recent win over Arkansas, tying a single-game, school record with nine treys on his way to a career-high 35 points. He is the first SU player to score 30 or more points in a game since Wesley Johnson put up 31 against Gonzaga in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Carter-Williams came within a whisker of logging a triple-double as he finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, while Triche tallied 17 points as well, and Fair tacked on 14. Despite shooting just 38.7 percent from the floor and 20.8 percent from long range, the Razorbacks scored 82 points thanks in large part to a 29-of-36 effort at the free throw line. SU committed far too many turnovers (19).