The Syracuse Orange look to stay atop the Big East Conference as well as build on their NCAA-best 36 game home winning streak as they host the St. John’s Red Storm. Tipoff is set for 3 PM inside the Carrier Dome.
St. John’s is a young and fickle team, and you never know which Red Storm squad you are going to get on any given day. The Johnnies played the non-conference schedule losing to inferior teams, but have since righted the ship, winning 6 out of their last 7 games. The Red Storm are currently 15-8 overall, with a 7-4 record in conference. Most recently, St. John’s hosted Syracuse’s following opponent Connecticut and defended their home floor, winning 71-65. The Red Storm led by as many as fifteen points in what turned out to be a great win for Steve Lavin and company. St. John’s is coming off of a tough loss to Georgetown by six in a back and forth game throughout the afternoon yesterday.
St. John’s is lead heavily by a new face the Orange have not yet seen. Freshman Jakarr Sampson is second on the team in scoring (14.5 ppg), and first on the team in rebounding (6.6 rpg). Sampson isn’t the biggest guy on the floor at 6’8 and 204 lbs, but he is a player that has heart and will hustle all over the floor. Syracuse will have to be sure to put a body on him to prevent some rebounding woes. Sampson is also the hottest player on the court, averaging 17 points a game over the last four contests, shooting better than 45% in those games.
Another player that excels for St. John’s is sophomore guard D’Angelo Harrison. The 6’3 guard from Texas is an explosive scorer, putting up better than 18 points a contest to this point in the season. Harrison is a decent three point shooter, and can hit a shot from deep if Syracuse leaves him open. The Orange can’t lose him while running the zone, and need to account for him whenever he is on the floor.
For Syracuse, question marks remain on whether or not James Southerland will be available to play. The senior guard/forward had a hearing in front of an eligibility board in Syracuse on Friday, and there is no timetable for when a decision will be made regarding his suspension. Should Southerland not be cleared by 3:00, a reasonable person would think that the board will come to a decision one way or the other by the time the Orange head to Connecticut on Wednesday.
This game is very important for Syracuse to win, because they are the superior team if nothing else. Disregarding any Big East implications this game may have, the Orange want to continue to dominate the teams in the New York area, and continue the recent dominance over St. John’s. With a Marquette win Saturday over DePaul, the pressure for Syracuse to stay atop the Big East mounts as the season goes on, and with a rivalry matchup with Connecticut on the road Wednesday, the Orange will need to protect their home court this afternoon.
I think that despite it being a Sunday afternoon game, Syracuse will come out ready to play, and will take care of business. Look for Syracuse to go on a run midway through the first half and to never look back en route to a blowout victory in the Carrier Dome.
St. John’s 53