The third-ranked Syracuse Orange put their unblemished record on the line on Saturday afternoon, when they take on the Temple Owls in a neutral site affair at Madison Square Garden as part of the Gotham Classic.
Fran Dunphy's Owls are an impressive 8-2 on the season and over the first nine games of the year, had just one setback, that being a 90-67 loss at the hands of currently top-ranked Duke. The Owls were able to string together a pair of wins after the loss to the Blue Devils, but let a third straight win slip away with a rather stunning 72-62 loss to Canisius on Wednesday.
Jim Boeheim's squad has yet to taste defeat on the year and is one of just eight teams left without a loss on its record. The Orange moved to 10-0 on the season with a 72-68 win over Detroit on Monday and in the process gave Boeheim his 900th career win, just two wins shy of tying Bobby Knight for second place all-time behind Mike Krzyzewski.
Syracuse holds a 16-13 advantage in the all-time series with Temple, but the Owls won the last meeting, a 65-54 decision in the third-place game of the 2002 NIT at MSG.
The Orange got off to a fast start, shooting 55.6 percent from the floor in the first half, heading into intermission with a 40-21 lead. The Titans fought back after the break and made a game of it, but Syracuse was able to hold on and deliver Boeheim his monumental victory. James Southerland led the way offensively with 22 points, thanks in large part to a 5-of-8 showing from 3- point range. Michael Carter-Williams had a strong outing as well, recording a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.
Syracuse has dominated at both ends of the floor, ranking second nationally in scoring margin (+25.6). The team is averaging 83.4 ppg, while holding foes to just 57.8 ppg and a meager .345 shooting (leads the nation). Southerland has been outstanding coming off the bench, averaging a team-best 15.9 ppg. Brandon Triche can also score at a high rate at 14.5 ppg. Carter-Williams is the catalyst though, averaging 12.3 ppg, while leading the nation in assists (10.7 apg). C.J. Fair provides frontcourt balance with 11.3 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game.
The Owls struggled with their perimeter shooting, converting just 4-of-28 from behind the arc, including an ugly 2-of-16 in the second half, in a 10-point loss at home to Canisius. Khalif Wyatt led four Owls in double figures with 17 points in the setback. Jake O'Brien added a season-high 14 points, while Will Cummings and Anthony Lee chipped in with 10 points apiece.
Temple has been successful this season despite modest offensive numbers. The team is averaging 70.1 ppg on the year, shooting .413 from the floor and a meager .296 from 3-point range. Wyatt leads the team in both scoring (14.5 ppg) and assists (3.9 apg). Scootie Randall has been a huge part of the team's success, making his presence felt after a washed-out season last year due to injury. Randall is netting 13.7 ppg and is tops on the team in rebounding (7.5 rpg). Lee (10.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (9.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) bolster the play up front.