Seton Hall visits No. 1 Syracuse in Big East lidlifter

The surprising Seton Hall Pirates can put a ranked Syracuse Orange in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.

Seton Hall is 11-1 on the season, and the team is riding the wave of an eight- game winning streak coming into this contest. The Pirates, whose only loss came against Big Ten foe Northwestern (80-73) on a neutral court on November 20, are coming off an 87-61 rout of Longwood two days before Christmas. So far, SHU has topped the likes of VCU, Saint Joseph's, Auburn, Wake Forest and Dayton, so it's obvious the team hasn't built its impressive record on the backs of mostly inferior opponents.

Syracuse is the No. 1 team in the land for the third straight week, and the Orange are 13-0 for the third straight season. Coach Jim Boeheim's club has dominated the competition for the most part, winning by an average of more than 21 ppg. The team's most recent triumph came in an 80-61 decision against Tulane, matching the final score in its previous outing against Bucknell (80-61 on December 20). SU's most notable wins this season have been over Virginia Tech, Stanford, Florida and NC State, the last of which marked the team's only true road game thus far.

Syracuse owns a commanding 45-16 lead in the all-time series with Seton Hall, and the Orange have won seven of the last 10 meetings, and 22 of the 27 matchups at the Carrier Dome. The Pirates did win there last season, however, taking a 22-point decision in front of a stunned home crowd.

Herb Pope has been a man possessed for Seton Hall this season, as he is averaging a monster double-double consisting of 20.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin are both netting double digits as well, scoring 15.8 and 14.0 ppg, respectively, for a team that generates 74.5 ppg on typical shooting outputs of 47.5 percent overall and 35.6 percent from three-point range. Defensively, the Pirates are yielding 62.8 ppg as foes are hitting 42.7 percent of their total shots, which includes a meager 29.5 percent showing from beyond the arc. SHU also owns favorable margins in both rebounding (+3.7) and turnovers (+4.2). Theodore scored a career-high 26 points, getting him past the 1,000-point mark while at SHU, and dished out six assists to lead Seton Hall to its 26-point win at Longwood last week. Edwin matched his career-high with 20 points, while Pope finished with just eight points in 29 minutes of action. Pope did secure a game-high 10 rebounds, helping the Pirates to a 38-30 edge on the glass. Seton Hall shot a sizzling 57.1 percent from the field, which included a 63.3 percent performance in the first half. The Lancers committed 16 turnovers on the night, while the Pirates were guilty of only nine.

Rather than count on just one player for the bulk of its production, Syracuse relies more on a balanced attack to thwart the upset bids of its opponents. A total of five guys are averaging at least 8.5 ppg, with Kris Joseph leading the way with his 14.5 ppg. Dion Waiters nets 12.3 ppg despite coming off the bench in every game this season, and Brandon Triche (9.8 ppg), Scoop Jardine (9.2 ppg) and James Southerland (8.5 ppg) have all made contributions in helping the Orange remain perfect after the first 13 games. The same kind of balance holds true when it comes to the team's rebounding effort, as Joseph and Fab Melo are grabbing 5.4 rpg apiece to pace the club. Overall, SU is shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, draining 37.4 percent of its three-point attempts, while yielding shooting percentages of only .382 overall and .319 beyond the arc. Foes are scoring just 59.0 ppg and have committed 102 more turnovers this year than have the Orange. A total of 12 players scored for Syracuse in its recent win over Tulane, with Waiters leading the way with 15 points. Joseph added 13 and Southerland chipped in 10 to go with his career- high four blocked shots off the bench for the Orange, who scored the final 19 points of the opening half to break the game open. Syracuse shot 51 percent from the field compared to just 34 percent by Tulane, and the Orange committed only eight turnovers while outscoring the Green Wave off giveaways, 18-3, and in the paint, 24-12. The SU bench outscored TU's reserves by a whopping 45-13 margin.