Syracuse will continue its home stand when it hosts New York rival St. John’s on Sunday at the Carrier Dome. Here is a quick look at the game:
SURPRISE, SURPRISE: After a wild and thrilling 71-65 win over Connecticut on Wednesday night, St. John’s is tied for fourth place in the Big East, and is just one game behind first place Syracuse. The Red Storm is 7-4 in conference, which is surprising, considering that St. John’s was picked to finish 10th in the preseason Big East coach’s poll. “It’s just so competitive, from top to bottom,” St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin said during the Big East’s weekly coach’s teleconference. “But I do like the overall direction of our team. I think we’ve made some strides.”
They certainly have, especially after the team racked up four losses in the non-conference play. The losses ranged from expected (then-No. 16 Baylor), to conceivable (Murray state and UNC Asheville), to downright unacceptable (San Francisco, which is currently below .500). Lavin did say that he had to fly out to California last weekend to be with his father, who is experiencing health problems. “I know tonight in general on the game, he’d be kidding me about having to reach for his nitroglycerin,” Lavin said to reporters following the Connecticut win. “He always carries that, because he’s had a bad ticker from his early 40s.”
SCOUTING THE RED STORM: Chris Obekpa has been a nightmare for opposing teams inside. The 6-9 freshman from Nigeria is averaging 5.7 rebounds and a whopping 4.4 blocks a game. Against Fordham on Dec. 8, he notched 11 rejections. But don’t expect much from the offensive end from Obekpa: he’s shooting just 42 percent from the field, and 31 percent from the line. D’Angelo Harrison is the team’s leading scorer at 18.5 ppg, and dropped 23 on then-No. 2 Syracuse last year.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Syracuse leads the all-time series between the two teams, 49-37. Last season, the Orange knocked off the Red Storm, 95-70, behind 14 points from Dion Waiters. SU has won the last seven matchups dating back to 2007, and the last 13 of 14 games.
GAME INFORMATION: Sunday, Jan. 10, 2013 at 3 p.m. TV: ESPN.Wesley Cheng