Rams face uphill climb in clash with ninth-ranked Orange

Nov 12, 2013 - 3:56 PM Syracuse, NY (Sports Network) - The ninth-ranked Syracuse Orange continue a four-game homestand to begin the 2013-14 season, as they welcome the Fordham Rams to the Carrier Dome for non-conference action on Tuesday.

Jim Boeheim's Orange opened the season with an 82-60 victory over Cornell. Syracuse, which won 30 games a year ago and navigated the NCAA Tournament field all the way to the Final Four, had some questions coming into the new season, as they left the Big East to join the ACC and did so with several holes to fill from last year's squad. Still, the hope is that with the ACC's Preseason Player of the Year leading the way, wins will continue to pile up for the Orange.

Tom Pecora's Rams are looking to bounce back from a horrific season last year, as they finished just 7-24 overall, including an ugly 3-13 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Fordham was able to get its new campaign off on the right foot though, routing St. Francis (Pa) at home, 87-67.

This marks the 44th meeting between these two teams, with Syracuse holding a 26-17 series advantage. The Orange have won each of the last three meetings. The last time Fordham earned a win in this series was in 1981.

Well, it was quite the performance for freshman guard Jon Severe, as he set the school record for freshman scoring with 28 points in his collegiate debut. Severe knocked down 9-of-15 shots from the floor, including a 7-of-10 showing from behind the arc in the 20-point victory. Three other starters joined Severe in double figures, as Bryan Smith poured in 18 points, while Mandell Thomas and Branden Frazier chipped in with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Fordham, which shot .477 from the floor overall, was .464 from 3-point range, at a 13-for-28 clip. The Rams will feature a small lineup most nights, with a four-guard set. Severe's ability to fill up the basket on a regular basis could go a long way in determining how much of a turnaround the Rams will have in 2013-14.

The Orange will present problems for a lot of teams this season, and Fordham specifically, thanks to a dominant front line. The headliner is of course All- American candidate C.J. Fair. The 6-8 senior was picked as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year and for good reason, as he can dominate both inside and out. Help up front comes in the form of big bodies Rakeem Christmas (6-9, 250) and DaJuan Coleman (6-9, 280). The backcourt will have a young look this season with freshman Tyler Ennis and sophomore Trevor Cooney eating up a lot of the minutes. The Orange used a 32-10 run to begin the second half to distance themselves from Cornell in the season opener. Cooney was a scorching 7-of-8 from 3-point range in the game, finishing with a career-high 27 points. Fair poured in 19 points in the win, while Christmas finished with 12.

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