Marquette-Syracuse Preview

The Associated Press

Syracuse is unbeaten and rolling through its schedule. The Orange now have a chance for revenge Saturday when they host Big East rival Marquette, the last team to defeat them.

The No. 1 team in the country for the past four weeks, Syracuse (16-0, 3-0) has beaten up the second tier of the conference - thrashing Seton Hall, DePaul and Providence by a combined 59 points.

The 20th-ranked Golden Eagles (12-3, 1-1) will be only the second Top 25 team the Orange have had to face. Syracuse's narrowest margin of victory came in the first such matchup, beating then-No. 10 Florida 72-68 on Dec. 2.

The Orange were in another tight game early in the second half Wednesday before pulling away for an 87-73 win at Providence, shooting a season-high 61.1 percent while Brandon Triche led six players in double figures with 16 points.

"It was the best shooting night we've had all year. If it hadn't happened that way, the game could have easily gone the other way," said coach Jim Boeheim, who has seven players averaging between 7.4 and 13.9 points. "We've stopped everybody, pretty much, this year. We couldn't stop them. We just outscored them. You know, Brandon just got going and he made some tough shots."

Triche made 4 of 5 from 3-point range and is shooting 42.4 percent (25 for 59) from beyond the arc. The Orange, whose 37.3 bench points per game lead the nation, are shooting a conference-best 49.9 percent overall and have been held under 45 percent just twice in starting 16-0 for the second straight season.

The 2010-11 season, though, ended with a disappointing 66-62 loss to the 11th-seeded Golden Eagles in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Syracuse shot 55.3 percent but committed 18 turnovers and was outrebounded 12-4 on the offensive glass.

"We're still the better team," insisted point guard Scoop Jardine after that loss. "We fought all season and we had a good season, and to go out like this is tough."

The Orange also lost 76-70 at Marquette on Jan. 29 in the only regular-season meeting despite 13 points and a career-high 13 assists from Jardine, who is coming off a season-best 11-assist effort Wednesday.

The Golden Eagles are trying to regroup from a 73-70 loss at No. 9 Georgetown on Wednesday in which they blew a 17-point lead in the final 13:10. Darius Johnson-Odom scored 18 points, Jae Crowder added 17 and freshman Todd Mayo 16, but Marquette allowed Georgetown to make 16 of 21 shots in the second half and hit 63 percent for the game.

"We lose by one possession and the opponent shot 63 percent, so defensively we have to get better," coach Buzz Williams said. "In some ways, we did some good things defensively, but down the stretch, not enough."

It's the second straight season Marquette has squandered a large lead on the road in Big East play, having frittered away an 18-point advantage in the final six minutes of a loss at Louisville.

Crowder consistently found holes in Syracuse's 2-3 zone defense last season, averaging 20.5 points on 50.0 percent shooting while making 15 of 18 free throws. Getting to the foul line was pivotal for the Golden Eagles, who outscored the Orange 43-13 there in the two victories to offset 56.3 percent shooting by Syracuse.

Marquette is 1-7 all-time against top-ranked teams, upsetting Kentucky to reach the 2003 Final Four for its lone victory.

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