A 75-71 triumph at nationally-ranked Georgetown last Thursday, coupled with a Villanova loss on Sunday, moved the Orange into sole possession of first place in the Big East at 12-2. The victory over Georgetown not only improved Syracuse to 6-0 against ranked teams, but it also kept the team perfect in true road games at 7-0. The Orange are now a healthy 25-2 overall and will host Villanova on Saturday in a game that could ultimately determine the Big East champion.
On the flip side, the Friars have completely fallen apart and enter the night riding a six-game losing skid. The most recent of the team's setback came on Wednesday, an 88-74 loss against nationally-ranked West Virginia. Providence is now just 12-14 overall and a far worse 4-10 within the Big East.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, Syracuse holds a commanding 42-10 advantage over Providence and that includes an 85-68 victory earlier this month.
The Orange had a 23-point second-half lead trimmed to one, but Kris Joseph's bucket with 11 seconds left helped Syracuse survive Georgetown for a 75-71 victory last week. Syracuse went 8-of-15 from three-point range at the night and hit on an even better 27-of-30 at the foul line. Andy Rautins, who made 5- of-9 shots from downtown, led the charge for Syracuse with 26 points and seven boards.
Wes Johnson posted 16 points and eight rebounds, and Rick Jackson had 12 points and eight boards. An Iowa State transfer, Johnson paces the Orange in scoring (16.0 ppg) as well as rebounding (8.7 rpg) and he also shoots 40.4 percent from long distance. Joseph gives the Orange a weapon off the bench, as he checks in with 11.3 ppg and 5.2 rpg. Rautins, a 39.2 percent three-point shooter, adds 11.2 ppg and a team-high 4.6 apg to the rotation, while Arinze Onuaku chips in with 10.0 ppg.
The Friars' struggles have come at the defensive end of the court, where they are giving up 79.8 ppg and 83.8 ppg against league foes. Jamine Peterson has been a bright spot though, as he averages a double-double with 18.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg to lead Providence. Sharaud Curry ranks second with both 15.2 ppg and 3.4 apg, while Marshon Brooks turns in 14.0 ppg and 4.2 rpg. In the team's last outing, Peterson notched his 14th double-double of the campaign with 20 points and 15 boards, but it wasn't enough in a loss to WVU. Brooks netted 13 points for Providence, which was outscored in the paint, 50-20, in giving up 88 points.
Syracuse has plenty of weapons to exploit Providence, and the Orange should have no trouble getting the job done on the road tonight.