GAME NOTES: The nation's No. 2 team will attempt to keep their unblemished start to the season alive on Friday night, as the Syracuse Orange played host to the High Point Panthers at the Carrier Dome.
High Point opened the campaign at 3-2, but since then has hit a rough patch with four consecutive losses. The Panthers suffered defeat at Morgan State on Wednesday night, 85-74, to dip to 1-4 on the road.
After starting the season ranked No. 8 in the AP poll, Syracuse has surged all the way to No. 2 thanks to its perfect 10-0 start, which includes resume'- building wins over California (92-81), Baylor (74-67) and Indiana (69-52). The Orange most recently downed St. John's on the road last Sunday, 68-63, to remain one of just 11 unbeaten Division I squads.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between the Panthers and the Orange in men's basketball.
Even though High Point shot a respectable 46.8 percent from the field the last time out and made 23-of-28 attempts at the free-throw line, it was ultimately done in by 19 turnovers, which resulted in 23 points for Morgan State. In defeat, John Brown was outstanding with 26 points, doing so on 6-of-11 accuracy from the field and 14-of-17 at the charity stripe. Devante Wallace was also impressive registering a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while blocking a pair of shots. On the season, the Panthers shoot an impressive 47 percent from the field, but they are just 29 percent from 3- point range, and that combined with a -1.7 turnover margin has resulted in a -3.1 scoring margin. Brown is an elite scorer at 20.1 points per game, showing great efficiency from the field (.580) and the free-throw line (.797), in addition to grabbing 8.3 rebounds per contest. With Allan Chaney (15.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) expected to miss the rest of the season due to a heart condition, Adam Weary (9.3 ppg) and Wallace (9.1 ppg) will need to step up their production.
The Orange built a comfortable 13-point lead over St. John's early in the second half of their latest game, but while the Red Storm battled back to take a two-point lead with under six minutes to go, the Orange ripped off a quick 6-0 spurt to retake a lead they would never surrender. They shot an impressive 54.5 percent from the field on the afternoon, although they were just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis led the charge with 21 points apiece, with Ennis knocked down all 10 of his free-throw attempts and handing out four assists as well. Jerami Grant was impressive off the bench, tallying 14 points and seven rebounds. Not surprisingly, Syracuse has displayed excellence at both ends of the court, shooting 46.5 percent from the field while boasting a +13.8 scoring margin. The team is also one of the nation's best when it comes to the takeaway battle (+6.6 turnover margin). Fair paces the squad with 18.1 points per game on 47 percent accuracy from the field and 76.2 percent from the free-throw line. Trevor Cooney (13.8 ppg) and Ennis (12.3 ppg, 5.0 apg) are both outstanding perimeter defenders, combining for more than five steals per game, while Grant (13.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) is a valuable asset off the bench.
Syracuse has been a well-oiled machine this season, taking down everything in its path, and nothing is expected to change in this one at home against a floundering High Point squad.
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