Iona-Syracuse Preview

Published Dec. 17, 2010 11:02 a.m. EST

Syracuse has had a week to bask in a lopsided win.

Its next visiting opponent from a small conference likely won't go down quite as easily.

The No. 5 Orange return from their seven-day layoff to host an Iona team seeking its eighth straight victory and featuring one of the nation's most prolific scorers.

A matchup between perennial Big East power Syracuse (10-0) and Iona (7-3) of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference wouldn't figure to be close, but the Gaels gave the Orange a scare in their only previous meeting, a 63-61 victory for Syracuse in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament. This contest may not prove much easier.


Iona is led by junior forward Mike Glover - a player dynamic enough that he carries the nickname "Optimus Prime." Glover is averaging 22.1 points and shooting 62.6 percent. He's been even better since the start of December, scoring 29.3 per game on 71.0 percent shooting.

Glover is the main reason why the Gaels have won seven in a row after an 0-3 start, and should at least ensure Syracuse doesn't cruise to victory the way it did last Saturday against upstate New York rival Colgate.

The Orange routed the winless Raiders 100-43, matching their largest margin of victory during Jim Boeheim's 35-year tenure as coach. It also came as a welcome relief after a string of hard-earned victories, including a 72-58 win Dec. 7 over then-No. 7 Michigan State.

"I think it has been very hard this first part of the season, we've had to grind it out," Boeheim said. "I think it was good to get this win and have some days off and have some days to work on things during practice. I think it's a good thing. We still have three very tough games right in a row when we start playing again (Saturday)."

Rick Jackson had 18 points and 10 rebounds against Colgate for his eighth double-double of the season. Brandon Triche added 14 points while making three 3-pointers, ending a string of seven games in which he never scored in double figures and missed all 13 of his attempts from beyond the arc.

"I think going further my stats are going to rise," Triche said. "I hit a little slump early, but everyone goes through that. I think in the upcoming games, you'll see me knock a few more threes down. I think it will help us as a team. When we are not hitting threes, we have to go one-on-one. As a team, that's not something we want to do."

The Gaels are also taking the court for the first time in a week. They extended their winning streak last Saturday with an 87-66 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson as Glover had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Iona needs two wins to reach 1,000 in the history of a program that began in 1940-41.