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IN THE

PAINT FEBRUARY 10-12, 2012

Walking tall

Riding a 4-game winning streak, Syracuse prepares to clash with rival UConn

ryan maccammon | asst. photo editor


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t h e i n de pe n de n t s t u de n t n e w spa pe r of s y r acuse , n e w yor k

Sports Editor Presentation Director Copy Chief Asst. Sports Editor Asst. Sports Editor Asst. Photo Editor Asst. Photo Editor Asst. Photo Editor Asst. Photo Editor Asst. Copy Editor Asst. Copy Editor

Mark Cooper Ankur Patankar Laurence Leveille Ryne Gery Chris Iseman Stacie Fanelli Ryan MacCammon Lauren Murphy Kristen Parker Stephen Bailey Andrew Tredinnick

Dara McBride

Debbie Truong

EDITOR IN CHIEF

MANAGING EDITOR

General Manager IT Director Advertising Manager Advertising Representative Advertising Representative Advertising Representative Advertising Representative Advertising Representative Advertising Representative Advertising Designer Advertising Designer Special Projects Digital Sales Business Intern Street Team Captain Circulation Manager Circulation Circulation Circulation

Peter Waack Mike Escalante Kelsey Rowland Joe Barglowski Allie Briskin William Leonard Bianca Rodriquez Andrew Steinbach Yiwei Wu Abby Legge Yoli Worth Rachel Meyer Nichelle Broner Tim Bennett Ian Brooks Harold Heron Joyce Placito Brooke Williams Tony Jing Zeng

WE ATHER TODAY

TOMORROW

SUNDAY

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Heavyweights

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3

Melo to square off with Huskies’ Drummond in matchup of Big East’s top centers By Zach Brown

H

STAFF WRITER

enry Sims appeared to be in perfect position under the basket. With Syracuse center Fab Melo sealed on his back, the Georgetown center caught a bounce pass and turned to finish at the rim. But what seemed like an easy layup quickly turned into a disaster for Sims. Melo stuffed the shot as he had multiple times earlier in the second half. Sims grabbed the rebound, but his second effort rolled off the front of the rim. And after SU started the other way, Melo wagged his right index finger back and forth, signaling to the Hoyas to stop coming into the paint. “I mean, they try to make layups and dunk, but I was getting blocks,” the sophomore center said. “I just felt like saying, ‘No. You’re not going to go in there and get dunks over me.’” Melo turned in a dominant defensive performance with six blocks in the second half and overtime in No. 2 Syracuse’s win over Georgetown on Wednesday. That has become typical for the 7-foot Brazilian throughout the Big East schedule as teams continue to attack the middle of SU’s 2-3 zone. The Syracuse center may have his tough-

“He blocks shots, he changes shots, he’s just doing everything on the defensive end.” Kris Joseph

SU FORWARD

est test of the season Saturday at 1 p.m. when the Orange (24-1, 11-1 Big East) takes on Connecticut (15-8, 5-6 Big East) in the Carrier Dome. The Huskies boast two prominent big men of their own in junior Alex Oriakhi and freshman Andre Drummond. But if Melo plays like he has throughout Big East play, he should be able to match UConn’s post players down low. The sophomore has become a standout defender at the heart of the Orange defense after shedding 30 pounds and getting into shape during the offseason. But he also credits last year’s Big East Defensive Player of the Year and former SU star Rick Jackson with showing him how to play the center position. “That’s how I learned to play this year,” Melo said. “I watched his films in the beginning of the season. … He’s great at getting position. He knows where he has to be in the zone.” The turnaround for Melo from last year has been well documented. He came to SU as the fourth-best center in his class according to

SEE UCONN PAGE 5

ryan maccammon | asst. photo editor (RIGHT) FAB MELO has emerged as a dominant presence in the paint this season. After a disappointing freshman year, the sophomore center leads the Big East with 4.1 blocks per game in conference play. He also averages 7.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.


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Ball control

Coffey matures to lead Syracuse offense in sophomore season By Ryne Gery

R

ASST. SPORTS EDITOR

achel Coffey took charge. Coming out of a timeout, Syracuse was in disarray as its opponent caught the Orange off guard with a change in defense. But the sophomore point guard stayed calm and directed her teammates to their positions on the floor. Though Iasia Who: Louisville Hemingway can’t Where: Louisville, Ky. When: Saturday, 2 p.m. recall the specific game in which that scene played out, the forward said the moment struck her as a turning point in Coffey’s development as a point guard and an extension of head coach Quentin Hillsman on the floor. “She started being more involved, talking to coach, asking coach, ‘What’s this, what’s that?’ Hemingway said. “Telling us where to go, even though I am a senior and I’m supposed to Iasia Hemingway know certain situations, SU FORWARD she makes sure I’m still there.” Coffey has emerged as the unquestioned point guard for Syracuse this season, starting the last 15 games for the Orange. The sophomore has averaged 29.4 minutes per game in SU’s last five contests. In that span, Coffey has displayed the playmaking ability that made her a highly

UP NEXT

“She’s real confident and comfortable at what she was doing, and with her having that mentality, it’s going to help us for the long road.”

SEE LOUISVILLE PAGE 8

ankur patankar | presentation director (RIGHT) RACHEL COFFEY has proven her leadership as SU’s starting point guard in the last 15 games. The Orange will rely on her to run the offense against No. 20 Louisville.

DAILYORANGE.COM


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februa ry 10 -1 2 , 2 01 2

ryan maccammon | asst. photo editor FAB MELO turned in another impressive performance against Georgetown on Wednesday. The 7-foot center tallied 11 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots.

UCONN FROM PAGE 3

Scout.com, but he was a major disappointment and averaged just 10 minutes per game. But during the offseason, Melo made a commitment to improve. He is visibly in better shape, helping him become more active in the Syracuse zone. And the extra film study has also paid off. Assistant coach Mike Hopkins suggested he study Jackson’s defensive positioning from last year, and Melo ran with the idea. He brought game tapes to China, where he played for Brazil in the World University Games, and spent much of his down time studying Jackson’s work on defense. And after the win over Georgetown on Wednesday, head coach Jim Boeheim said Melo has even surpassed Jackson in one key defensive category. “I’d say (Melo is) just a little bit better shot blocker,” Boeheim said. “Not as good a rebounder, but a much better shot blocker.” Melo set the Syracuse single-game record with 10 blocks against Seton Hall on Dec. 28 and leads the Big East with 4.1 blocks per conference game. But when he isn’t swatting shots, Melo has consistently drawn charges throughout the year and avoided foul trouble thanks to his improved agility and better positioning. “He blocks shots, he changes shots, he’s just doing everything on the defensive end,” senior Kris Joseph said. “That’s probably going to get him a Big East Defensive Player of the Year (award). He could get most improved player, too, in the Big East. He’s just been playing tremendous for us.” If opponents continue challenging Melo

BIG SHOES, FILLED IN After a disastrous freshman season, Syracuse sophomore center Fab Melo has improved his game in all facets this season. Last year, senior forward Rick Jackson was the Orange’s most effective center when he shifted to the middle of the 2-3 zone. He won Big East Defensive Player of the Year last year, and Melo may be the front-runner for the award this season. Here’s a comparison of Melo’s stats this year with Jackson’s last season: PLAYER

YEAR

PPG

RPG

BPG

Melo 2011-12 7.6 5.6 3.1 Jackson 2010-11 13.1 10.3 2.5

inside, those awards seem within reach. He averages more blocks per game than Jackson did last year, and when he missed three games due to academic issues this season, SU’s other big men couldn’t replace his presence in the middle of the zone. A dominant performance by Melo against the UConn frontcourt Saturday could be another step toward securing those postseason accolades. He said he won’t have a message for Oriakhi and Drummond until after the game, but if the sophomore comes up with another big performance, that message will likely be something similar to the finger wag he gave Georgetown on Wednesday. “I go to a game and I want to score,” Melo said. “I expect to get more rebounds, more blocked shots. That’s what I do.” zjbrown@syr.edu

5


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HALF-COURT SHOTS ZACH BROWN Syracuse 71, Connecticut 63 Boatwrong.

MICHAEL COHEN Syracuse 67, Connecticut 52

No Kemba, no issue.

MARK COOPER

@RUTGERS

SOUTH FLORIDA

MONDAY, 7 P.M.

FEB. 19, 1 P.M.

FEB. 22, 7 P.M.

(24-1)

SATURDAY, 1 P.M., CARRIER DOME

BEAT WRITER PREDICTIONS It takes a team effort to beat SU this year, and UConn doesn’t do that.

UP NEXT >>

@LOUISVILLE

CONNECTICUT AT SYRACUSE2

(15-8) Syracuse 74, Connecticut 60

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STARTING LINEUP FREE THROWS

POINT GUARD

SHOOTING GUARD

SMALL FORWARD

POWER FORWARD

KRIS JOSEPH

RAKEEM CHRISTMAS

CENTER

COACHES

Connecticut and Syracuse rank second and third in the Big East, respectively, in field-goal percentage defense. Both teams hold their opponents to less than 38.5 percent shooting from the floor, trailing only Louisville, which leads the conference at 36.9 percent. With Syracuse’s overtime win Wednesday over Georgetown, the Orange is 19-2 all-time in overtime games in the Carrier Dome.

SCOOP JARDINE

6-2, 190, SR. 8.2 PPG, 4.9 APG

BRANDON TRICHE

6-4 205, JR. 9.8 PPG, 2.9 APG

6-7, 210, SR 14.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG

6-9, 222, FR 3.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG

FAB MELO

7-0, 244, SO 7.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG

JIM BOEHEIM

880-302 36th season

USA TODAY/ESPN (First-place votes in parentheses)

1. Kentucky (63) 2. Syracuse (2) 3. Ohio State 4. Missouri 5. North Carolina 6. Baylor 7. Kansas 8. Florida 9. Murray State 10. Duke 11. Michigan State 12. Georgetown 13. San Diego State

14. UNLV 15. Florida State 16. St. Mary’s 17. Creighton 18. Marquette 19. Virginia 20. Mississippi State 21. Wisconsin 22. Michigan 23. Indiana 24. Louisville 25. Harvard

AP TOP 25

STAT TO KNOW Connecticut has a record of 10-10 when Jim Calhoun misses a full game. On Saturday, George Blaney will fill in for the ailing Calhoun. UConn is 3-2 with Blaney filling in for Calhoun this season.

7

(First-place votes in parentheses)

RYAN BOATRIGHT

6-0, 160, FR. 10.4 PPG, 3.6 APG Since he was inserted in the starting lineup, Boatright has been the only UConn player to score consistently. He’s averaging 18.5 points per game in his last two games. Jardine, the fifth-year senior, has been crucial for the Orange late in games.

SHABAZZ NAPIER

JEREMY LAMB

6-1, 171, SO 13.1 PPG, 5.5 APG

6-5, 180, SO 17.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG

Triche has struggled in the last two games, combining for 11 points on just 1-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. Napier, though, has been even worse. He is 4-of-33 from the field in his last four games, including going 0-of-13 from 3-point range.

Lamb was the go-to option for Connecticut early on, scoring in double figures in the first 14 games of the season. He also has lost his shot as of late, failing to hit more than one-third of his shots in any of the last three games. Joseph is coming off the best game of his career against Georgetown.

THEY SAID IT "We know Connecticut, they are a good team. They are just going through some things right now."

Dion Waiters

SU GUARD

TYLER OLANDER

6-9, 225, SO 5.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG Olander provides a spark for the Huskies with his passing ability and hustle. He’s combined for 12 points in the last three games. Christmas played just three minutes against Georgetown and his only stat registered was a personal foul.

ANDRE DRUMMOND

JIM CALHOUN

6-10, 270, FR 9.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG

870-375 40th season

Saturday will be the first time all season Melo faces an opponent who has an advantage in weight and in athleticism. But Drummond has had his share of freshman mistakes this year, while Melo looks polished. Melo is coming off a dominant 11-point, sevenrebound, six-block performance against the Hoyas.

While Boeheim just passed Dean Smith, Calhoun attempts to recover from a spinal condition that has prevented him from coaching the team. In his place Saturday will be George Blaney, who acts as interim head coach for the third straight game and sixth game overall this season.

"Right now, I don’t think we’re a good basketball team because we can’t rebound. For a long time this year, we were within a couple, two or three rebounds. I don’t think I was concerned about rebounding that much. But when it gets to 10, 15, 20, you better be concerned." Jim Boeheim

SU HEAD COACH

1. Kentucky (31) 2. Syracuse 3. Ohio State 4. Missouri 5. North Carolina 6. Baylor 7. Florida 7. Murray State 9. Duke 10. Kansas 11. Georgetown 12. Michigan State 13. St. Mary’s

14. San Diego State 15. Creighton 16. UNLV 17. Florida State 18. Mississippi State 19. Marquette 20. Virginia 21. Harvard 22. Wisconsin 23. Indiana 23. Louisville 25. Michigan

“When you have a team coming in like Connecticut which feeds off of rebounds, we must do better. We have a lot of athletic guys who can be better on the boards. So I know tomorrow in practice and from here on out, we are going to try to be better with our rebounding.” Scoop Jardine

SU GUARD


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LOUISVILLE FROM PAGE 4

touted recruit coming out of high school with 15 assists, but she has also shown her inexperience with 17 turnovers. Still, the up-and-down play a year removed from playing just 8.3 minutes per game represents encouraging progress for Coffey. She’ll lead Syracuse (15-10, 4-7 Big East) into a conference matchup with No. 20 Louisville (17-7, 6-5 Big East) on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. Hillsman said the Cardinals — which are 9-1 at home this season — are a talented basketball team that plays at a fast pace on both ends, pressuring the ball on defense and looking to get out in transition. The head coach said protecting the ball and getting good looks on offense will be key for Syracuse to pull the upset. That means the Orange will need Coffey to play at the high level she has proven capable of in Big East play. “She’s been steady, and she’s been logging big minutes, and she’s been doing pretty well on the floor,” Hillsman said. “So we just got to continue to put the ball into her hands and let her mature in her role.” Syracuse placed its trust in Coffey against No. 3 Connecticut in the Carrier Dome on Jan. 25, with fellow guards La’Shay Taft and Shanee Williams benched for what Hillsman called a “coach’s decision.” And the sophomore rose to the occasion, scoring eight points to go with five assists, and committed just three turnovers in 39 minutes of action in SU’s 95-54 loss. Coffey controlled the Syracuse offense with confidence despite facing constant full-court pressure from the UConn backcourt. The point guard was unfazed and patiently worked the ball up the floor, turning her opponent with cross-

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overs to reach half court and set the offense. “She looked like a veteran out there, like she’d been doing this for a while,” Hemingway said. “She’s real confident and comfortable at what she was doing, and with her having that mentality, it’s going to help us for the long road.” And after playing a solid floor game for the first 20 minutes against the Huskies, Coffey dazzled the crowd and her teammates with a highlight-reel play while time was running out in the first half. She dribbled the ball to the right wing beyond the 3-point line with two Huskies in pursuit. The point guard then split the defenders to get into the lane along the right side before dropping off a pass to center Shakeya Leary for a wide-open layup on the left block. “Sometimes I say I like double teams because I like splitting them even though you’re always not supposed to,” Coffey said. “But somehow I always split them. So I just try to open up the floor.” But that aggression also comes with the risk of turning the ball over, something she has struggled with throughout her career. For every stunning sequence, Coffey can have an equally confounding one. In that same game against UConn, she tried to loft a pass to Leary under the basket from three-quarter-court with two Huskies defenders already back. Center Kelly Faris easily picked off the ill-advised pass that displayed Coffey’s occasional immaturity. While Coffey continues to work on keeping her turnovers to a minimum, she is pleased with her development thus far. And she’s ready for any challenge Louisville throws her way Saturday. “I’m kind of used to people guarding me, one person, two people,” Coffey said. “So I’m just trying to get the ball, be as patient as I can, get the ball, not force anything.” rjgery@syr.edu


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mitchell franz | staff photographer (CENTER) KEMBA WALKER scored 33 points, including 23 in the second half and overtime, to lead the Huskies past SU in the semifinal round of the Big East tournament.

LAST TIME THEY PLAYED March 11, 2011 Connecticut 76, Syracuse 71 OT

Jim Calhoun had no problem declaring Kemba Walker the best player in America. With Syracuse on the verge of breaking through in overtime, Walker took over and asserted himself as one of the most dominant players in the country. “I think he’s the MVP of any college basketball team in America,” Calhoun said in an article published by The Daily Orange on March 11. “And I’m going to keep saying that because you’ve got a chance to witness what we’ve witnessed over the past 30-somewhat games.” Walker scored four of Connecticut’s eight points in overtime, leading the ninth-seeded Huskies to a 76-71 victory over the fourthseeded Orange in the Big East tournament semifinal matchup. The UConn star and eventual First Team All-American wowed the sold-out crowd of 19,375 at Madison Square Garden by scoring 33 points to go with 12 rebounds, six steals and five assists. Walker held or tied for a game-high in each of those categories. After Connecticut defeated Louisville in the Big East championship, Walker scored 130 points, setting the record for most points in any one conference tournament ever. Syracuse had no answer for Walker throughout the game. He shot 9-of-18 from the field and 13-of-14 from the free-throw line, singlehandedly leading the Huskies to their fourth win in four days. Scoop Jardine, who had drilled back-to-back 3s to send the game into overtime, missed a 3-pointer with 14.2 seconds left in overtime that would have tied the game at 74. And Walker hit two free throws on the other end to seal the game for UConn. SU bottled up Walker for a good portion of the first half. He didn’t hit his first field goal until

the 7:29 mark in the half. But he got it done in other ways, opening up the lane and feeding his teammates as he drew the focus of the Orange defense. And he later caught fire in the second half, scoring 23 points in both the second half and overtime combined. “We let Kemba get too much penetration,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. “We tried to double him every chance we could, but he’s very difficult. He’s as good a player as there is in college basketball right now.” With just more than eight minutes to go in the second half, Syracuse had a chance to pull out in front for good. SU went on an 11-2 run, which included a four-point play by Kris Joseph after he was fouled knocking down a 3 from the top of the arc. Joseph’s play pushed the Orange into the lead. But as Walker had done all night, he responded. He assisted on a jumper from Jeremy Lamb to regain the lead for UConn with six minutes remaining, and the Huskies held on the rest of the way. Despite shooting 52 percent in the second half, the Orange couldn’t contain Walker. And even though Jardine forced overtime, SU could never take control. The performance gave fans a peak of what Walker would achieve in the NCAA Tournament, and UConn won its last 11 games to win the national championship. “We’re playing hard and together and good things are happening for us,” Walker said. “The bright lights are on, and it’s time to shine. Everybody said we couldn’t do this, and we’re just shocking the world.” —Compiled by Andrew Tredinnick, asst. copy editor, adtredin@syr.edu

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Around the nation NO. 6 BAYLOR (21-3, 8-3 BIG 12) AT NO. 4 MISSOURI (22-2, 9-2 BIG 12) Saturday, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3

The Tigers beat the Bears 89-88 in their Jan. 21 matchup earlier this season thanks to 27 points from stud forward Ricardo Ratliffe. Defensively, Missouri shut down Baylor star forward and leading scorer in Perry Jones III, limiting him to eight points. Since that game, MU has won four of five games, including a win over No. 7 Kansas. But on Wednesday, Baylor fell to the Jayhawks, who sit at 9-2 in the Big 12. In that game, Jones floundered again, managing just five points on 1-of-8 shooting. For the third-place Bears to remain in contention for the Big 12 crown, their matchup with MU is almost a must-win. It would propel BU to second place in the conference behind only the Jayhawks. KEY TO THE GAME: RICARDO RATLIFFE

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound senior averages 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Ratliffe is the most efficient scorer in the nation, shooting 75.5 percent from the field. He is on pace to break the program’s single-season mark and the all-time NCAA record of 74.6 percent, set by Oregon State’s Steve Johnson in 1980-81.

NO. 11 MICHIGAN STATE (19-5, 8-3 BIG TEN) AT NO. 3 OHIO STATE (21-3, 9-2 BIG TEN) Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN

The Buckeyes have reeled off six straight wins since losing to Illinois on Jan. 10. Most recently, Ohio State defeated Purdue by three points when guard William Buford carried OSU with a 29-point effort. A triumph Saturday would mark the team’s 40th consecutive win at Value City Arena. The Spartans also are coming off back-to-back wins and toppled the 15-9 Boilermakers 83-58 Jan. 21. Senior forward Draymond Green has paced MSU this season, averaging a double-double with 15.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per contest. KEY TO THE GAME: JARED SULLINGER

Buford led Ohio State in points and rebounds against Purdue, but Sullinger leads the Buckeyes on the season with averages of 17.4 points and nine rebounds per game. With 10 double-doubles on the season, the 6-foot-9, 280-pound sophomore forward is widely regarded as one of the elite big men in the country. Green and the rest of the Michigan State frontcourt will have to keep the Columbus, Ohio, native in check Saturday if they want to pull even with the Buckeyes atop the Big Ten standings.

NO. 19 VIRGINIA (19-4, 6-3 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE) AT NO. 5 NORTH CAROLINA (20-4, 7-2 ACC) Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN3

The Tar Heels are coming off a heartbreaking loss to archrival Duke. Up 10 points with 2:38 left, North Carolina collapsed, losing on a buzzerbeating 3-pointer by Blue Devils guard Austin Rivers. The loss snapped the Tar Heels’ streak of five straight wins and dropped them into a three-way tie with Duke and Florida State for the ACC lead. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils each have six games before playing again March 3. But North Carolina’s game against the Cavaliers will be no stroll in the park. Virginia was three points away from upending the Blue Devils in Durham, N.C., Jan. 12 and just defeated Wake Forest by 24 points. Behind senior forward Mike Scott, who averages 17 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, the Cavaliers are capable of being the second straight team to silence Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. KEY TO THE GAME: TYLER ZELLER

Zeller crumbled in the final 44 seconds of UNC’s loss to Duke. He missed two key free throws, tipped in a Blue Devils’ missed 3-pointer and failed to get a hand up on Rivers’ game-winning triple. That makes it easy to forget his 23 points and 11 rebounds against the Blue Devils. The 7-foot, 250-pound senior averages 15.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Against Virginia on Saturday, he’ll be a key for the Tar Heels’ chance to bounce back. —Compiled by Stephen Bailey, asst. copy editor, sebail01@syr.edu


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februa ry 10 -1 2 , 2 01 2

Head to head

Valentine’s Day Special *(5qif65#05qk5Ŀ #."5885 5B-./(.-5(5-.ĿC &#5&(.#(]-535(&3

STATISTICS 77.6 60.8 47.7% 38.3%

69.9% 35.8

16.7 10.7 10

POINTS PER GAME POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME FIELD-GOAL PERCENTAGE OPPONENTS’ FIELD-GOAL PERCENTAGE FREE-THROW PERCENTAGE REBOUNDS PER GAME ASSISTS PER GAME TURNOVERS PER GAME STEALS PER GAME

68.2 62.1 45.4

37.1 69.3

38.3 16.1 13.4 6.2

REMAINING SCHEDULES Saturday Monday Feb. 19 Feb. 22 Feb. 25 March 3

Connecticut at Louisville at Rutgers South Florida at Connecticut Louisville

1 7 1 7 9 4

p.m. p.m. p.m. p.m. p.m. p.m.

Saturday Wednesday Feb. 18 Feb. 20 Feb. 25 Feb. 28 March 3

at Syracuse DePaul Marquette at Villanova Syracuse at Providence Pittsburgh

Highest Rated Indian Food in Syracuse on Yelp Recent Reviews on Yelp

1 p.m. 7 p.m. noon 7 p.m. 9 p.m. 7 p.m. noon

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February 10, 2012  

February 10, 2012