Texas Southern (1-9) has made the NCAA Tournament in each of its last two seasons, but will likely need to win the SWAC to return for a third consecutive year. This year's team is a far cry from Glory Road and comes to Syracuse in desperate need for a win. The Tigers have worked on zone offense a great deal this last week in practice in preparation for Syracuse today and Baylor on Tuesday.
TSU is coming off a 10 point loss to Iona in which the Gaels didn't even have their best player, AJ English or their best shooter Schadrac Casimir. TSU has struggled to defend this season, giving up 81.3 points per game. They have also wavered down the stretch of games this season with turnovers being the team's biggest shortcoming -- the Tigers average 15 per game.
Keys to the Game
Syracuse should be able to force Texas Southern to take tough shots and into turnovers. Look for the Orange to trap aggressively in the corners. The Tigers only average 69.9 points per game and only have two of its players averaging double-figures. Slowing the Tigers' offense shouldn't be much of a problem.
Texas Southern has a defensive efficiency rating of 107.8 (allowing 107.8 points per 100 possessions). Syracuse should be able to execute offensively and get open looks inside and out. Can Syracuse get back to hot shooting from beyond the arc?
This game provides another opportunity for Syracuse to get better in the rebounding department. The Orange average 2.9 rebounds more per game than Texas Southern. Syracuse has out-rebounded its last two opponents by two and 21 rebounds, respectively. Syracuse and Tyler Roberson especially, should look to get on the glass and control the game.
Today's game tips off at 2 p.m. and will air on ESPNU. It will be interesting to see if Syracuse can continue to build on its last two performances -- the Orange have looked like a much improved team on the defensive end (particularly with the starting lineup sans Coleman, plus Lydon) since losing to St. John's.