Iona head coach Tim Cluess is enjoying a solid start to his career as the Gaels head coach.
After losing his first three games at Iona, the Gaels have reeled off seven straight victories, including their most recent 87-66 trouncing of Fordham on Dec. 11. They will head into the Carrier Dome on Saturday for their first meeting with the Orange (10-0) since 1998.
The Gaels (7-3, 2-0 MAC) are led by junior Michael Glover, who is averaging 22.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. The 2009-10 JUCO All-American has given Iona a strong presence in the post, shooting 62 percent from the field.
Feeding him the ball will be guard Scott Machado, who is averaging 13.7 points and 8.0 assists per game.
Iona, which went 21-10 overall and 12-6 in the MAAC last season, is trying to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. Iona lost a close game to Niagara in the 2010 MAAC Tournament championship game, 68-64.
Meanwhile, Syracuse is coming off a 100-43 win over Colgate. The Orange was led by Rick Jackson’s 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Although Syracuse has had trouble scoring this season as their 73.1 points per game are only 109th in the NCAA, Syracuse’s defense has only allowed one opponent over 70 points the entire season.
Expect to see more of Mookie Jones and James Southerland in this game. With only three more games to go before Big East play starts, coach Jim Boeheim will see if either of those players can break into the Syracuse rotation.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get them in during the next two or three games and see how they do,” Boeheim said. “And then we’ll have a couple guys with some more game experience headed into the Big East.”
The Orange and Gaels have met three times in the past, with the most recent game being in the 1998 NCAA Tournament. There, Marius Janulis hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to give move Syracuse on to the next round.
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.Wesley Cheng