GAME NOTES: The second-ranked Syracuse Orange put their unblemished record on the line on Wednesday evening, as they take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in an ACC clash at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
Jim Boeheim's Orange are one of just three unbeaten teams left in the nation, joining top-ranked Arizona and fourth-ranked Wichita State. Needless to say, Syracuse's first season in the ACC has been very successful thus far, with the Orange sporting a flawless 6-0 mark, which includes the team's 64-52 road win at Miami-Florida on Saturday. A win in this game would tie the school record for most consecutive victories to start a season (2011-12).
Jeff Bzdelik's Demon Deacons are a dangerous squad on their own floor. Wake Forest brings a 13-game homecourt win streak into this contest, including wins in all 12 home games this season. One of those victories came this past weekend with a 65-58 decision over Notre Dame in Winston-Salem. With the win, Wake moved to 14-6 overall and 4-3 in conference play.
Syracuse won the only previous meeting between these two new conference rivals, a 74-67 victory in the 2001-02 Preseason NIT Championship Game at Madison Square Garden.
Syracuse's defense held the Hurricanes without a field goal over a seven-plus minute span late in the second half to earn a 12-point win last time out. Jerami Grant led the Orange with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Tyler Ennis netted 14 points. C.J. Fair followed with 13 points, seven boards and three assists for the Orange.
The Orange have brought their patented zone defense to the ACC and continue to dominate at that end of the floor. The team ranks among the nation's best in scoring defense, allowing just 57.8 ppg. Fair (16.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg) was the ACC Preseason Player of the Year and has not disappointed. Just a freshman, Ennis (12.0 ppg, 5.5 apg) can both score and distribute at a high rate. Fellow guard Trevor Cooney (13.5 ppg) and forward Jerami Grant (12.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) round out the double-digit scorers for Syracuse.
Devin Thomas led the way with 21 points courtesy of an impressive 10-of-11 shooting from the floor, helping Wake Forest upend Notre Dame on Saturday at home. Travis McKie added 14 points to the cause, while Coron Williams finished with 11 points in 22 minutes off the bench. Wake shot a solid .489 from the floor, while limiting the Irish to just .393, including a mere 2-of-16 from behind the arc.
The Demon Deacons aren't an offensive juggernaut, but the squad does have a solid inside/out game, led by point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, who leads the team in both scoring (15.2 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg). Thomas does the lion's share of the work down low, shooting .567 from the floor and averaging 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. McKie, who was a focal point of the Wake Forest attack in years past, has taken a more complementary role this season, averaging 10.2 ppg.
Wake Forest hasn't lost at home this season and the Demon Deacons may be able to keep this one close. Syracuse however, hasn't shown many flaws thus far and should be able to keep the win streak going.
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