The Syracuse Orange are the top team in the land for the second straight week, and they will continue preparations for what promises to be another challenging Big East Conference slate as they entertain the Bucknell Bison tonight at the Carrier Dome.
Bucknell recovered from an 0-2 start, by winning five in a row to build some much-needed confidence. A pair of losses in its next two games had the team hovering around the .500 mark, but coach Dave Paulsen's club has bounced back by winning each of its last two bouts, the most recent of which being a 79-65 decision at home over Richmond on Saturday. The Bison, who begin Patriot League play at Army on January 7, have never upset the No. 1 team in the country, but ironically their last win over a ranked opponent came at Syracuse in a 74-69 final on November 22, 2005.
Bucknell boasts a balanced attack that relies more on efficiency than explosiveness, and while there are four double-digit scorers in the fold, the team averages a modest 67.4 ppg. The Bison are hitting their field goals 46.2 percent of the time, and their three-pointers at a near 40 percent clip (.395). They also own a favorable margin in rebounding (+6.9), but they come up with fewer than 10 turnovers per outing. They do however, allow just 62.1 ppg on a typical shooting effort of only 38.8 percent. Cameron Ayers (13.2 ppg) is the team's leading scorer, and he is a long-range threat (21-of-38, .553), while Mike Muscala is close to averaging a double-double with his 13.0 points and 9.2 caroms per contest. Ayers matched his career high with 23 points, and Muscala put forth a monster effort with 22 points and 12 rebounds, as Bucknell topped Richmond at home on Saturday. Bryson Johnson came off the bench to score 18 points in the second half, a period in which the Bison shot a sizzling 70 percent from the floor, and converted all 21 of their free throws.
The game will be televised on ESPNU. Go watch it.
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