Big East showdown pits Orange against Golden Eagles

A pair of teams coming off tough losses get together on Monday night, as the Syracuse Orange pay a visit to the Marquette Golden Eagles in a pivotal Big East Conference clash.

In its final bout as conference foes with long-time rival Georgetown this past Saturday, Syracuse was flattened in a 57-46 loss. The setback ended a Division I-leading 38-game home winning streak for Syracuse. With the loss, the Orange is now 22-5 overall while falling into a tie with both Marquette and Louisville for second place in the Big East standings.

For Marquette, a 60-56 loss at Villanova ended a modest two-game win streak for the team. The Golden Eagles are still seeking their 20th win of the season, which would make them the sixth team in the Big East to reach that plateau this year. Like Syracuse, the Golden Eagles know a little something about winning at home as they are a perfect 14-0 at the Bradley Center this season.

This is the first meeting between these two teams since January of last year when the Orange earned a 73-66 victory at the Carrier Dome. The victory pushed SU's lead in the all-time series to 8-4.

Syracuse couldn't get into a rhythm against Georgetown, as it shot just 34 percent from the field. The 46 points the Orange managed was the second-fewest they had ever scored at the Carrier Dome. The Orange allowed the Hoyas to score 20 points off turnovers.

Normally Syracuse is one of the more efficient offensive teams not only in the Big East, but the country as well. The Orange score 109.6 points per 100 possessions which is the 27th-best total in the nation. On defense, the team holds its opponents to fewer than 59.2 points per game on 37 percent shooting. Controlling the boards is a major key as the Orange are 12th in the country on the glass (39.9 pg). Four different players average in double figures led by Brandon Triche (14.7 ppg, 3.5 apg) who had 10 points on just 4-of-13 shooting against Georgetown. Michael Carter-Williams (12.5 ppg, 8.0 apg, 3.0 spg) is a strong passer and a pesky defender, leading the Big East in assists and steals. C.J. Fair (14.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is an explosive athlete in the front court, while James Southerland (13.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg) may be the best sixth-man in the nation.

Marquette was trailing by 11 points late in the second half against Villanova, and although it cut the deficit to four points three times in the final minute, the Golden Eagles couldn't complete the rally. Points off turnovers and from the free-throw line were crucial, as the Golden Eagles were outscored 18-9 from the stripe and 17-2 on takeaways.

Offensively speaking, Marquette is also a team that plays efficient basketball. The Golden Eagles are shooting a solid 46.5 percent from the floor, which ranks third best in the Big East. Marquette also own s a +7.0 scoring margin, but at the Bradley Center that number jumps to an incredible +21.3, with the Golden Eagles scoring 78.5 points per game on their home floor. Defensively, MU holds its enemies to right around 40 percent shooting and just 62.2 points per game. Vander Blue (14.7 ppg) is the offensive force for the Golden Eagles, although he hasn't reached double figures in two of his last outings including a seven-point effort in the loss to Villanova. Davante Gardner (11.6 ppg) gives Marquette a big spark off the bench by shooting 55.6 percent from the field as the only other player averaging in double figures. Junior Cadougan (8.5 ppg, 4.3 apg) is a solid distributor.