Wagner (0-1) at (8) Syracuse (1-0) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked Syracuse Orange begin a three-game homestand with their home-opener on Sunday against the Wagner Seahawks at the Carrier Dome.
Jim Boeheim's Orange put themselves in harm's way to begin the 2012-13 season, going up against nationally-ranked San Diego State on the USS Midway. The result was an impressive 62-49 victory. Syracuse is once again one of the favorites in the Big East this season, with a cupboard full of top-shelf talent.
Wagner is under the leadership of first-year head coach Bashir Mason, who at 28 years old, is the youngest head coach in Division I. The Seahawks went an impressive 25-6 a year ago under Dan Hurley (now at Rhode Island), but failed in their season-opener, dropping a 73-69 overtime decision at Delaware State.
This is the third meeting between these two teams. Syracuse has won both prior matchups, although these teams haven't met since the 1992-93 season.
Senior Jonathan Williams finished with a strong stat line of 19 points and eight rebounds, but it wasn't enough as the Seahawks lost in Mason's debut on the bench. Kenneth Ortiz and Latif Rivers added 12 points apiece, while Naofall Folahan finished with 11, but Wagner went ice-cold in the extra session, converting just 1-of-10 shots from the floor in the loss. Wagner is no stranger to upsetting a ranked team, as the Seahawks shocked another Big East power a year ago, knocking off Pittsburgh at the Peterson Events Center (59-54).
The Orange didn't exactly light up the scoreboard against the Aztecs in the opener, but then again, they didn't have to, holding San Diego State to a mere 49 points, on a mere 27.0 percent shooting. Syracuse challenged just about every shot and it paid off, with SDSU converting just 1-of-18 from behind the arc. Forward C.J. Fair led the way in the win with a double-double consisting of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Michael Carter-Williams matched that scoring output with 17 points of his own, while fellow guard Brandon Triche poured in 15. The Orange should enjoy great depth both inside this year. Fair should get plenty of help up front by fellow forwards Rakeem Christmas (6-9, 242) and James Southerland (6-8, 215), while youngsters like freshman center DaJuan Coleman (6-9, 288) and freshman forward Jerami Grant (6-8, 203) are eased into their roles.
The Seahawks are severely out-matched in this one. Mason will need to continue to wait to get his first victory at Wagner, as the Orange will get up early and cruise to victory in the front of the hometown faithful.