SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — As Syracuse prepares for its NCAA tournament opener against Missouri Valley Conference-champion Indiana State on Friday, coach Jim Boeheim is counting on his two freshman centers — 7-foot Fab Melo and 6-10 Baye Moussa Keita — to ease the load in the middle of the Orange's signature 2-3 zone defense.
Both have dazzled and struggled in adjusting to the faster pace of the college game and their statistics are modest at best.
Melo is 33 of 55 (60 percent) and has 75 points, 60 rebounds, 24 blocks, 10 steals, 23 turnovers, and two foulouts in 310 minutes over 24 starts; Keita is 31 of 55 shooting (56.4 percent) and has 77 points, 130 rebounds, 42 blocks, 21 steals, 20 turnovers, and five foulouts in 501 minutes over eight starts.
Both will be needed as the Orange (26-7) face the Sycamores (20-13), who have won five in a row.
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