Teams: Syracuse Orange (1-0, 0-0) vs. Morehead State Eagles (1-1, 0-0)
Date & Time: Saturday, November 10 at 7 p.m. ET
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Line: Syracuse -22.5, O/U: 134.5, Ken Pom: Syracuse 80, Morehead State 58. ESPN BPI gives Syracuse 95 percent chance to win.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3, SiriusXM: 971
Morehead State Blog: Googling “Morehead State blog” can be dicey, so don’t bother because there isn’t one. Check out Mid-Major Madness instead.
Rivalry: 2-0, Orange
Current Streak: Syracuse at two
First Meeting: The Godfather of the Canada-to-Syracuse connection, Leo Rautins, scored a game-high 21 points as the Orangemen defeated Morehead State, 74-59, in the first round of the 1983 NCAA Tournament. That Syracuse team entered the season with all five starters returning (sound familiar?), including Rautins, Erich Santifer, and Tony Bruin, and also welcomed in future standouts in Rafael Addison and Wendell Alexis. Ulltimately, SU would go 21-10 and bow out in the second round of the tourney to Ohio State.
Last Meeting: It feels like a lifetime ago (and maybe it is) but Syracuse hoops used to be known as “run and gun.” And that was on in full display back in late December 1987, just months after a loss to Indiana in the NCAA championship game. The General, Sherman Douglas, poured in 29 points as the Orangemen pounded the Eagles, 110-69. Senior Rony Seikaly also tallied 15 as Syracuse earned its ninth victory of the season on its to a Big East tourney title, 26 total wins and a loss to Rhode Island that most people around here try to forget ever happened.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (43rd year, 1,028-371); Morehead State: Preston Spradlin (2nd full year, 20-32)
Coach Bio: Spradlin is something of a John Calipari disciple, having been a graduate assistant at Kentucky from 2009 through 2011 and then becoming assistant director of basketball operations until 2014.
Spradlin, who played college ball at NAIA Alice Lloyd College, moved on to become a member of Sean Woods’ staff at Morehead State in 2014. Things changed quickly in 2016, though, as Spradlin eventually took over the Eagles’ program as interim coach when Woods was forced out after being accused of assaulting players.
During the tumultuous time, Spradlin and the Eagles were able to find success by going 10-6 in the Ohio Valley Conference. For that, the school made Spradlin the full-time head coach.
Last Year: It was a disaster from jump, with the Eagles starting out 2-5 in the first seven games. What’s interesting is that one of those victories came against Marshall. You know, that same Marshall team that ended up taking out Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA tourney.
Outside of that big win, Morehead ended the year 8-21, 4-14. Yuck. But if you’re into bright sides, well, the Eagles did win their last two games. Never mind the fact that those victories came against fellow OVC bottom-feeders UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky.
(Connecticut defeated Morehead, 80-70 on Thursday night in Storrs.)
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Stop me if you’ve read this before, but the Eagles welcomed back their entire starting lineup from last year. So this is an experienced, albeit not too talented opponent for Jim Boeheim’s club. Of the returnees, which amounts to eight players from the ‘17-’18 season, Djimon Henson is the sharp shooter. Henson led the Eagles last year by shooting just over 37 percent from deep.
Also, Syracuse should keep an eye on Lamontray Harris, a senior forward who scored 16 points in the loss to the Huskies earlier this week.
If Syracuse Wins: This is an eat-up-the-innings win and keeps everything nice and neat.
If Syracuse Loses: Whoa, whoa, whoa, we gotta talk.
Fun Fact No. 1: Spradlin assisted his then-boss John Calipari on the Dominican Republican national basketball team in 2011 and 2012.
Fun Fact No. 2: Chuck Woolery, veteran game show host, is a notable Morehead State alum. A video of Chuck coming up in “two and two.”