Villanova-Syracuse Preview


Syracuse is on a five-game winning streak, but coach Jim Boeheim isn't happy with the team's recent shooting performances.

Returning home would seem to be a great opportunity to change his mood - especially if the Orange can defeat a Villanova team that's given them problems on their home floor lately.

Coming off a pair of lackluster shooting efforts, the No. 7 Orange can extend the longest home winning streak in the nation by beating the Wildcats at the Carrier Dome for the second time in five tries Saturday.

Syracuse (15-1, 3-0 Big East) has outscored opponents by an average of 19.4 points during its five-game run, and the team is shooting 45.9 percent from the floor on the season.

The Orange, though, haven't come close to being that effective of late.

Boeheim criticized his squad for making 36.5 percent from the field in a 55-44 win at South Florida on Sunday, calling it one of the worst offensive performances he's seen. The Orange failed to restore his confidence Wednesday, making 41.9 percent from the floor and going 3 for 21 from 3-point range while winning 72-66 at Providence.

"It's probably the worst shooting night we've had," Boeheim said. "When you don't shoot the ball well against the zone, you're going to have trouble."

Returning home may be just what Syracuse needs as it's hitting 47.1 percent overall and 34.9 from behind the arc during a 33-game winning streak there.

The Orange, however, have lost three of four home games to Villanova, falling 83-72 in the most recent such meeting Jan. 22, 2011. They've taken the last two matchups, including a 79-66 victory Jan. 11, 2012, when Syracuse was ranked No. 1.

The Wildcats (11-4, 2-0) have limited opponents to 62.3 points and 39.3 percent shooting during their season-high seven-game winning streak. They turned in another strong defensive effort in a 61-53 road win over South Florida on Wednesday, yielding 36.0 percent from the floor and holding a 42-32 rebounding edge.

"This was as good a win as we have had this season," coach Jay Wright said.

JayVaughn Pinkston is looking to continue his impressive shooting after going 5 of 8 and scoring 15 points in 18 minutes Wednesday. The sophomore forward has made 54.2 percent from the field - 5 of 8 from 3-point range - while averaging 17.2 points over the past five games.

Ryan Arcidiacono is averaging 12.5 points, but he'll try to bounce back from a season-worst five-point effort against the Bulls. In his previous game, the freshman guard scored 32 in a 98-86 overtime win over St. John's on Jan. 2.

He'll have to contend with Syracuse's backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche, both of whom are also in search of consistency.

Carter-Williams tops the nation with 9.6 assists per game and his 3.2 steals ranks among the leaders. He's averaging 12.0 points after getting 17 Wednesday along with six assists, six rebounds and a season high-tying five steals.

However, he shot 1 of 13 and scored a season-low four points against South Florida, continuing a season-long trend of often following solid shooting performances with poor ones.

Triche, a senior, struggled from the floor versus the Friars, going 2 of 10 for a season-low four points after totaling 45 in the previous two contests.

The Orange, who are moving to the ACC next season, face Villanova again Jan. 26 in their final Big East visit to Philadelphia.

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