The Syracuse Orange (2-0) host the Elon Phoenix (2-1) at the Carrier Dome tonight at 7 p.m. as part of the Orange's first official game in the Battle 4 Atlantis. So what does Elon bring to the floor? We take a closer look.
In its first three games, Elon is averaging 84.5 points per game game in its wins and scored 68 points in its lone loss to Michigan.
Elon lost its leading scorer from last season and CAA Rookie of the Year, Elijah Bryant, who transferred to BYU. Bryant averaged 14.2 points per game last year.
The Phoenix are now led by sophomore Dmitri Thompson and senior Tanner Samson who is just 18 points shy of scoring 1,000 career points. Samson is averaging 13.3 points per game in his first three contests while Thompson has 14.3 points per game. Dainan Swoop is averaging 12.3 points per game off the bench for Elon.
Keys to the Game
Elon is only pulling down 36 rebounds per game, which is just a half rebound below Syracuse. Elon is taller than St. Bonaventure as the Phoenix have three guys that are 6-foot-8 who earn consistent minutes. The Phoenix have played freshman big Karolis Kundrotas sparingly, but the Lithuanian stands tall at 6-foot-11. Nonetheless, Syracuse should be able to get on the boards in this game. The 2-3 zone leaves gaps on the floor for offensive rebounding, but the Orange need to do a better job of closing out gaps, boxing out and eliminating its opponents to get good position for offensive rebounds.
The Phoenix also struggle to defend, allowing 81 points per contest, and they are especially inefficient at defending shots from the three point line. It's been overstated that Syracuse has shot a surfeit of threes already, but expect the Orange to get open looks from outside.
Keep An Eye On
Syracuse's turnovers. Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson all have seven turnovers a piece this season. Granted, those three have taken the lion's share of minutes thus far, but ball security will be emphasized from now on, especially with two fifth-year seniors in the starting backcourt.
Syracuse is also ranked 10th in the nation in steals per game, averaging 12.0. Cooney leads that department with 3.5. Keep on eye on Syracuse's defense and how many steals are generated.
Be sure to keep up with Elon on twitter before tonight's game.