This is the second meeting between the two in the last two weeks, as the Orange prevailed at home on February 11 in an 85-67 final. As a result, SU's lead in the all-time series increased to 52-36, and it was the fourth win in the last five encounters for coach Jim Boeheim's club over the Huskies. Ironically though, the Orange have never won at Gampel Pavilion.
UConn will be playing once again without coach Jim Calhoun as he continues to nurse a back injury that has been bothering him since last summer. The Huskies are 17-10 on the year, but a game below .500 in conference at 7-8. They have however, won two of their last three games, the most recent being a 73-70 overtime decision at Villanova on Monday. Split between Storrs and Hartford, UConn is 12-3 at home this season.
Syracuse is a near-perfect 28-1 this season, and the team's 15-1 conference mark has assured of it of a double-bye in the upcoming Big East Tournament. The Orange have won eight straight since suffering their lone setback at Notre Dame on January 21, and they are 18-0 at Carrier Dome. A 56-48 home win over South Florida was its most recent triumph, and the next win will give head coach Jim Boeheim his 400th in Big East play.
With a nearly unblemished record to this point in the campaign, it's clear Syracuse is performing exceptionally well in all facets of the game, not the least of which is scoring offense (76.8 ppg). The Orange have just two players averaging double figures in the scoring column, as Kris Joseph (14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Dion Waiters (11.9 ppg) are counted on to be productive on a nightly basis. Waiter's effort is all the more impressive when you consider he has started only one game this season. SU is the nation's top team in terms of turnover margin (+6.7), and ranks second in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55). The Orange clinched at least a share of the Big East regular-season title by virtue of their recent win over USF, as the home team battled from behind thanks to a remarkable 26-0 run spanning the end of the first half and the start of the second. Scoop Jardine was high man for Syracuse with his 15 points, while C.J. Fair finished with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and five steals. Joseph logged a double-double consisting of 12 points and 12 boards.
UConn owns favorable margins in both scoring (+5.0) and rebounding (+4.3) this season, but is in the negative in turnover differential (-1.7). The Huskies have three double-digit scorers in the form of Jeremy Lamb (17.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg), Shabazz Napier (12.7 ppg, 5.8 apg) and Ryan Boatright (10.2 ppg), while center Andre Drummond nets 9.9 ppg and leads the team with 7.6 rpg. As a collective unit, Connecticut is limiting the opposition to 38.3 percent field goal efficiency. Lamb hit for a career-high 32 points in leading the Huskies back from an 18-point deficit to prevail at Villanova earlier in the week in overtime. No other player reached double figures for UConn, which managed a 43.1 percent shooting effort that included a 7-of-23 showing from three-point range. The Wildcats shot just 40.3 percent from the floor, but committed 15 turnovers. UConn outscored 'Nova in second-chance points (17-8) and in bench points (11-4).