The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team returns home Sunday night, as the Florida State Seminoles visit the Carrier Dome for a Atlantic Coast Conference contest. The Orange (11-4, 2-0 ACC) are riding a five-game winning streak, which features two consecutive league victories, while the Seminoles defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies, 86-75, five days ago.
The game is the third of a handful SU need to win before it heads into its gauntlet ACC schedule, which begins Jan. 26 at the North Carolina Tar Heels.
|Syracuse (projected starting lineup)||Class||Ht.||Wt.||PPG||RPG|
Over midway through the season senior center Rakeem Christmas is still playing well, as he is second in the league in scoring (17.3 point per game), blocked shots (2.27 per game) and fifth in overall rebounding (8.8 per game).
The four-year player was the main reason the Orange have started ACC play with two consecutive wins, as he scored the game-winning points from the free-throw line in Wednesday's 46-45 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Christmas netted a game-best 18 points and snagged eight rebounds, while junior swingman Michael Gbinije added 14 points.
Gbinije's production of the last eight games, all of which he has started, has seen an uptick. Through the team's first six games Gbinije averaged just 6.7 ppg, however, since being inserted into the starting lineup he scored in double-digits in six of eight games, including a 24-point performance over the visiting Long Beach St. 49ers on Dec. 28.
Meanwhile, junior sharp shooter Trevor Cooney continues to provide the Orange with a 3-point shooting threat. His nine-point performance against GT was his lowest total six games. His single-digit output snapped a string of a half dozen contest that featured him scoring 14 or more points. In his last seven games, Cooney is shooting 43.1% from long distance.
|Florida State (projected starting lineup)||Class||Ht.||Wt.||PPG||RPG|
The Seminoles are led by junior Montay Brandon, who will be starting his 73rd game on Sunday. The total is highest on the team, which has needed his veteran presence since losing its leading-scoring Aaron Thomas, who was ruled ineligible for the rest of the season back in mid-December. At the time, Thomas was leading the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game.
The loss of Thomas as put a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Brandon, who is having a career season averaging a team-best 13.5 ppg and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes is the team's floor general, as he leads the squad with 66 assists and is second in scoring at 12.4 ppg. He is FSU's most frequent 3-point shooting threat, attempting a team-high 67 long-balls, however, Devon Booker is the team's best option to sink long distance shots. Booker, the team's third leading scorer with 10.3 ppg, is making 42% of his 3-point attempts.
Sophomore center Michael Ojo will get the start, but may see very little time on the floor. Currently, he is just averaging 9.5 minutes per game. Boris Bojanowsky (14.7 mpg) and Kiel Turpin (12.5) should get most of the Seminoles minutes inside.
|Team Comparison||Syracuse||Florida State|
|Record||(11-4, 2-0)||(9-6, 1-1)|
|Points Per Game||68.6||70.8|
|Turnovers Per Game||13||14.3|
Overall, the game will feature two squad's that struggle to score offensively. Syracuse is ranked the second-worst scoring offense in the ACC, while FSU is near the middle of the pack. The Orange's edge comes on the defense side of the ball, where it is ranked third in the league, while the Seminoles are dead last allowing 68.2 points per game.
SU shouldn't be threatened by FSU's 3-point shooting either, as they make just 27.5% of its long-range attempts. That ranks second worst in the league just ahead of SU's latest victim, Georgia Tech.
Rebounding-wise, the team's are on par with each other. Surprisingly, the Seminoles turn the ball over more than the Orange, which could be a deciding factor in the game.
Game Time: 8 p.m. ET–get all your football watching in before you turn on the Orange.
TV: ESPNU–Adam Amin (play-by-play), Brad Daugherty (color).
Radio: Syracuse IMG Radio Network
RPI Ranking: Syracuse–55; Florida State 157
What A Win Could Mean: In all honesty, the Orange need this win because come March this could be a bad loss on their NCAA resume. Again, SU would love to continue to earn victories while growing as a team and before it heads into the meat of its ACC schedule, which gets brutal.
Meaningless Prediction: Syracuse 58, FSU 50
The match up favors SU, as they have more talent on offense and defense. However, FSU is a team that will take smart shots and capitalize on Orange turnovers, if they come in bunches.
With that said, look for Syracuse to earn another low-scoring victory.
|Syracuse Next 5 Games||Date||Time||TV|
|Wake Forest||1/13/2015||8:00 PM||ESPNU|
|at Clemson||1/17/2015||8:00 PM||ACCN|
|Boston College||1/20/2015||7:00 PM||ACCN|
|at North Carolina||1/26/2015||7:00 PM||ESPN|