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Preview: Georgetown at Syracuse

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Underdog Hoyas have won two straight in the Carrier Dome

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Game 9: Georgetown Hoyas (7-1) at Syracuse Orange (6-2)

When: Saturday, 330pm

Where: Carrier Dome

Series: Syracuse leads 50-43, Orange won last season in OT at Capital One Arena

TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman & LaPhonso Ellis)

Radio: Team 980 (Rich Chvotkin)

KenPom Prediction: Syracuse 79, Georgetown 67 (88 percent)

Line: Syracuse -12.5

It gets real loud in there especially when they’re playing Georgetown because they don’t like us and you know we don’t like them – Jessie Govan on playing in the Carrier Dome

Coach Patrick Ewing makes his return to the Carrier Dome on Saturday for the first time since 1985 as the Georgetown Hoyas are a heavy underdog to longtime rivals Syracuse.

The Hoyas (7-1) have won four straight games and are led by senior big man Jessie Govan who is averaging 19.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and shooting just under 60 percent from the field.

Freshman James Akinjo joins Govan in averaging double figures with 14.1 points while leading the team with five assists per game. Saturday’s game will be quite the test for Akinjo and fellow backcourt starter Mac McClung who will get their first but hopefully not their last chance to play in the Carrier Dome. This is the final game in a four year series with the future still be discussed.

The Hoyas are enjoying one of their better stretches in the Carrier Dome having won two straight and three of the last four dating back to 2011. Overall Georgetown has won four of the last six against Syracuse. Each of Syracuse’s last three wins over the Hoyas has come in overtime.

Ewing was 8-3 against Syracuse as a player but will be trying for the second time to earn his first coaching victory against coach Jim Boeheim and the Orange.

Syracuse (6-2) is also on a four-game winning streak that lines up perfectly with the return of senior Frank Howard.

Howard, who was second in the nation in minutes played last season, missed the first four games of this season with a foot injury. His return to the court has helped the Orange but he’s not exactly back to his old self on the court. The senior guard from the DC area has seen his scoring drop from 14 points last season to just four this season while he’s been reduced to mainly a 3-point shooter. Howard, who had 19 points and nine assists at Georgetown last season, is hitting just 19 percent of his 3-pointers this season.

The Orange are led this season by Tyus Battle (17 ppg), Oshae Brissett (16 ppg) and Elijah Hughes (14.1 ppg). Brissett went for 21 points and a career high 14 rebounds in the Syracuse’s win midweek over Northeastern. Freshman reserve Buddy Boeheim set his season high with 11 points against Northeastern.

KEY RESERVES

With Georgetown’s starting backcourt facing the Syracuse zone for the first time, reserve guards Jagan Mosely and Jahvon Blair could prove to be important for the Hoyas. Last season Mosely came off bench and was able to find space against the Syracuse defense as matched a career high with 20 points, including a 6 for 8 performance from the line. Blair didn’t fare nearly as well against Syracuse last season but his ability to hit shots against the zone will be important. Blair responded to his DNP-Coach’s Decision against Richmond by scoring nine points against Liberty.

GOVAN REFLECTS

Jessie Govan has played in the last three Georgetown – Syracuse games with the Hoyas holding a 2-1 advantage. With his final trip to the Carrier Dome as a player coming this weekend, the senior big man shared his memories with the media on Wednesday.

“It’s been real nice,” said Govan. “We got the four year deal when I was a freshman so I knew I was going to play them every year that I was here. It’s definitely a game that I look forward to coming into every year. Hopefully I can leave above .500 against them. I didn’t achieve the undefeated goal because of last year.”

AVOID EXTRA TIME

If history is any guide, Georgetown needs to avoid overtime at costs. As mentioned earlier the last three Syracuse wins in this series have all been in overtime. Going back even further the Hoyas are just 1-9 in overtime games against Syracuse dating back to 1986. Georgetown’s last OT win against Syracuse came at home in 2008.

Prediction: Syracuse 84, Georgetown 78