Syracuse, NY – The 17th-ranked Syracuse Orange will try to dig themselves out of a rut when they go up against the DePaul Blue Demons in a Big East Conference matchup at the Carrier Dome.
If there is any team that can get Syracuse back on track it might just be DePaul. The Blue Demons have lost four straight games and are just 2-14 in Big East play. DePaul is tied with South Florida for last place in the conference standings but is coming off of an 83-73 setback to that same Bulls squad last time out. DePaul will be at home against No. 20 Pittsburgh in Saturday's season finale.
Syracuse is a team that has hung around in the top 25 all season, reaching into the top five on a number of occasions. However in recent weeks the ORagne have been stuck in reverse with losses in three-straight including a 58-53 setback at home against Louisville on Saturday. The Orange have lost their last two games at the Carrier Dome after having won 38 straight previously. The losing streak has the Orange free-falling not only in the national rankings but in the Big East standings as well as they are now tied with Notre Dame for fifth. Syracuse will have revenge on its mind in the season finale on Saturday against No. 5 Georgetown.
In the all-time series Syracuse has a 9-4 lead against DePaul with wins in the last six meetings. The last two haven't been particularly close with the ORange winning by at least 19 points in each matchup. The most recent was an 87-68 victory last January.
Both teams shot above 50 percent from the floor in DePauls run in with South Florida but the Blue Demons were outscored 27-12 from beyond the arc in the 10-point loss. Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin each scored 18 points in the victory.
Young 916.8 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Melvin (16.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) have been carrying the Blue Demons on their backs all season. The pair are a dangerous scoring tandem but are the only players on the roster scoring in double figures. Young has scored in double figures in 11 straight games and is also among the top 10 players in the Big East in assists. Melvin has been in double figures in five of the last six games, including three contests with at least 20 points. The junior forward has also posted seven double-doubles for good measure. The real problem for DePaul this season has been on the defensive end as it lets up 75 points per game on better than 46 percent shooting.
In another brutal Big East bout, Syracuse bowed to Louisville for a critical loss in terms of seeding for not only the conference tournament but the Big Dance as well. C.J. Fair scored a game-high 19 points but needed 20 shots to get there. As a team the ORange hit just 35.7 percent from the field.
Syracuse can play defensive with the best of them and on the whole has been a solid offensive squad. The ORange hold teams to just 5.7 points per game while allowing the third-lowest opponent field goal percentage (.371) in the country. On offense the Orange put in 73.2 points per game while shooting just under 45 percent from the floor. Those offensive numbers have begun to drip recently though. Fair (14.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) has risen to the top of the pile as scorers go for the Orange while Brandon Triche (14.2 ppg) has begun to take a backseat. Triche though is the best player on the team at putting the ball on the floor and getting his own shot. Michael Carter-Williams (12.5 ppg, 7.9 apg, 2.9 spg) leads the Big East in assists and steals while sixth-man James Southerland (13.8 ppg) can knock down shots from anywhere on the floor.