Syracuse scouting report: Providence

Syracuse, which opened the New Year with a lopsided win against DePaul, travels to Providence to take on the Friars.

TRANSITION GAME: A solid 11-2 start for new coach Ed Cooley, highlighted by a victory over regional rival Boston College, has been tempered by an uninspiring 0-2 opening to Big East play. Cooley’s biggest challenge has been to replace the contributions of Marshon Brooks, last year’s conference leading scorer, while he waits for his vaunted 2012 recruiting class to arrive (11th in ESPN ranking), headlined by hometown player Ricardo Ledo.

SCOUTING THE FRIARS: The offense that Brooks dominated last year has been replaced by a slightly more balanced attack. Four players average double figures in points (and over 34 mpg apiece). Point guard Vincent Council (16.1 ppg, 6.6 apg), big guard Gerard Coleman (15.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg), 3-point specialist Bryce Cotton (14.5 ppg, 40.3 3P%) and forward LaDontae Henton (13.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg) are the core of an undersized team that has been rebounding very effectively (39.7 team rpg). They’ll need to stay active on the boards to overcome the vastly superior length of the Orange.

IN PROVIDENCE’S LAST GAME: In a game of one-downsmanship, the Providence offense out-underperformed Georgetown to pick up the loss in an anemic 49-40 affair, setting a school record for the worst field goal percentage in a Big East game at 25.5%.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Syracuse is 44-10 all time against Providence, with SU winning seven of the last eight meetings. The teams last played on Dec. 28, 2010, with Kris Joseph’s career high 27 points leading then-No. 5 Syracuse past the Friars 81-74 at the Carrier Dome.

GAME INFORMATION: Wed, Jan 4. 9:00 p.m. BIG EAST Network/SNY. Providence, RI.