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Syracuse Basketball: Orange are better shooting team than predicted

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Syracuse has gotten off to a torrid start from distance.

NCAA Basketball: Holy Cross at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

After Syracuse lost to North Carolina in the national semifinal last April, it was understood that Jim Boeheim would lose his starting backcourt to graduation.

The plan was to slide Malachi Richardson to the two guard heading into the 2016-17 season, but the precocious freshman parlayed his Elite Eight performance into an NBA contract with the Sacramento Kings. In doing so, Syracuse lost three players who combined to make 262 threes on the season.

Ill-frequently used sophomore Kaleb Joseph was set to transfer to Creighton, leaving Syracuse in scramble mode to try to find depth at the guard position. The only three-point threat remaining on the roster was then-freshman Tyler Lydon who made 49 triples on the year. Syracuse would add Tyus Battle to its roster, but the scouting report listed his ability to get to the rim as his bread and butter.

With its roster devoid of shooting, Syracuse was able to pick up two fifth-year graduate transfers in John Gillon and Andrew White. Gillon shot a respectable 33 percent from deep the season prior and White was known as a volume shooter. All the while Syracuse added depth to its roster, Franklin Howard added range to his jump-shot, working diligently on his form and getting reps up over the summer.

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What White is doing through two games should come as no surprise. Syracuse knew what it was getting in both he and Lydon from outside. What’s surprising is what Syracuse is getting from Battle, Gillon and Howard.

Look, Syracuse has only played two games against clearly inferior opponents, but the Orange are getting solid production from the perimeter to this point. Syracuse is 20 of 45 from long range, or 44.44 (Brand!) percent.

Howard eclipsed his total made threes from last season in the first night against Colgate. Gillon is proving his ability to stroke from deep while Battle is a better three-point shooter than advertised.

Don’t expect Syracuse to shoot at that high of a percentage the rest of the way, but if it can get steady shooting from those three guys on top of White and Lydon, Syracuse will be tough to defend both inside and out.