Tulane challenges No. 1 Syracuse

Playing its third game in six days, the top- league opponent of the regular season as they entertain the Tulane Green Wave tonight at the Carrier Dome.

Unlike most of SU's other foes this season, Tulane isn't likely to be intimidated by the hostile environment or by the fact that it's facing the No. 1 team in the country. That's because, at 11-1, the Green Wave is off to its best start in 20 years (the 1991-92 team ran out to a 13-0 start), and while there are no guarantees the team will make a splash in Conference USA this year, this is clearly a confident bunch. With a scoring margin of just under 18 ppg, Tulane has built up a head of steam for sure, but detractors are quick to point out the team's rather soft early schedule.

Syracuse has opened a season 12-0 for the third straight year -- the team's best start was 19-0 in 1999-2000 -- and the Orange are a perfect 9-0 at home. SU has won 30 straight non-conference games at the Carrier Dome, the most recent of which being an 80-61 rout of Bucknell on Tuesday night. Coach Jim Boeheim's club will open Big East Conference play next Wednesday at home against Seton Hall.

Syracuse won the only previous meeting between these two teams, taking a 73-60 decision at home on December 1, 2007.

After 12 games, four players are averaging double figures in scoring for Tulane, led by Kendall Timmons (13.3 ppg). Ricky Tarrant (12.3 ppg) is next in line, while Josh Davis is averaging a double with 12.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. Jordan Callahan, who averages 10.7 points per game, leads the squad with 22 steals. As a team, the Green Wave is hitting 44.2 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 36.6 percent showing from three-point range. Tulane, which allows just 53.0 ppg on shooting percentages of only .375 overall and .291 from beyond the arc, also owns favorable margins in both rebounding (+7.0) and turnovers (+4.3). The Green Wave has been idle since knocking off Jacksonville State at home on December 11, 59-51, as Callahan led the way with 15 points and Tarrant pitched in with 10. Davis grabbed 11 of the team's 42 rebounds in the win, and JSU was held to just 35.2 percent field goal efficiency while missing 14 of its 19 long-range bombs.

Kris Joseph scored 17 points to lead three players in double figures, as Syracuse thrashed visiting Bucknell on Tuesday night. Scoop Jardine added 14 points and Rakeem Christmas chipped in a career-high 10 points for the Orange, who made good on 52.8 percent of their field goal attempts, while holding the Bison to just 37.3 percent. Syracuse dominated the paint, outscoring Bucknell down low, 32-14. Joseph (14.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) continues to pace the Orange both in scoring and rebounding, while Dion Waiters (12.1 ppg) is the only other player averaging double figures for a Syracuse team that relies more on balanced scoring than on one or two individuals commanding the bulk of the attention. As a unit, the Orange are putting up 80.8 ppg on 48.7 percent shooting from the field, and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. Defensively, SU is yielding just 58.8 ppg, as foes are hitting their total shots just 38.5 percent of the time, which includes a 31.2 percent effort from three-point land. Opponents have committed nearly 100 more turnovers on the season (234-138) than have the Orange.