Syracuse-St. John's Preview
Though it may not be exactly the same as a classic showdown, fans of the old Big East will likely find some nostalgia when Syracuse faces one its former conference foes.
The second-ranked Orange looks to remain unbeaten with their ninth straight victory over long-time rival St. John's on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
This will be the 88th meeting between the schools, with most taking place while both were members of the Big East. Syracuse, now in its first season in the ACC, leads the all-time series 50-37.
The Orange (9-0) have dominated the series recently, winning eight in a row and 14 of 15. Their last six victories over the Red Storm have come by an average of 19.2 points.
Syracuse also has a 74-46 record at MSG under coach Jim Boeheim.
"It is great to go there, we love playing in New York," Boeheim said. "St. John's is playing well. I think they have a really good team. I think it will be a great matchup, it will be a great game down there."
The Orange have certainly been on a roll, outscoring opponents by an average of 14.8 points. They knocked off Indiana and Binghamton by a combined 45 points last week to earn their highest ranking since March 12, 2012.
C.J. Fair led the way with 19 points and Trevor Cooney added 17 to help Syracuse rally from an early 11-3 deficit in last Saturday's 93-65 victory over the Bearcats.
Cooney has made at least five 3-pointers in four of his last five contests, averaging 17.4 points over that span.
Fair, averaging a team-high 17.8 points, finished with 17 points and nine boards to key Syracuse's 77-58 win over St. John's in the Carrier Dome on Feb. 10.
The Orange are playing well defensively heading into this meeting, limiting the Hoosiers and Bearcats to a combined 37.4 percent shooting - including 10 for 36 from beyond the arc.
They're hoping to continue that effort against the Red Storm (6-2), who had the hot hand at the Garden last Saturday.
St. John's made 17 consecutive shots during one stretch en route to a 104-58 victory over Fordham in the Holiday Festival. The Red Storm reached 100 points for the first time since a 104-70 victory over Providence on Feb. 15, 1999.
"This showed how we're capable of playing," said guard D'Angelo Harrison, who averages a team-high 18.9 points. "If this is how we play, we're tough to beat."
Orlando Sanchez had a career-best 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and Harrison added 13 for the Red Storm, whose 66.1 field-goal percentage was their best since Dec. 22, 1999. After hitting just 29.1 percent of their 3-point attempts over their first seven games, they went 9 for 15 from long range against the Rams.
"I doubt we'll play a game like this the rest of the year," coach Steve Lavin said. "By no means have we arrived. We have so far to go before we're a competitive team at this level."
Following its 89-82 overtime loss to Penn State on Nov. 29, St. John's has held Georgia Tech and Fordham to a combined 116 points in consecutive wins. The Red Storm limited the Rams to 23.8 percent shooting last Saturday.
Jakarr Sampson, averaging 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, finished with 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting in last season's loss at the Carrier Dome.
St. John's hasn't beaten the Orange since a 64-60 win on Jan. 21, 2007.