In wins over Notre Dame and Georgia Tech last week, Syracuse was aided by Tyler Lydon and Franklin Howard, two freshmen who, to varying degrees, have had up-and-down seasons thus far.
Both players, however, could be emerging at the perfect time. This week's statistics will focus on them, as well as Syracuse's shot-blocking prowess and how the Orange stack up against other potential NCAA Tournament teams in the kenpom.com rankings.
Tyler Lydon: Shooting more, yet just as efficient
If there has been one criticism to be made of Lydon this season, it's been his reluctance to shoot. Several times earlier in the season, he passed up looks at open 3-pointers and often looked hesitant to take shots.
But that has started to change. He took six 3-pointers against Notre Dame — a season-high — and has attempted at least three such shots in five of the past six games.
Most impressively, it hasn't affected his efficiency. Lydon is shooting 52.4% from beyond the arc in those six games and is up to 44.1% on the season. That ranks fifth in the ACC.
He also has an effective field goal percentage of 55.0 — 21st in the ACC — and a true shooting percentage of 58.0 — also 21st in the conference.
Howard can dish
After Howard registered six assists in 14 minutes against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said that Howard's passing ability was the reason SU recruited him.
And so far, he's proven himself to be a gifted passer, both against the Yellow Jackets and throughout the season.
Howard has a 31.1% assist rate, which is calculated by dividing a player's assists by his teammate's made field goals while said player is on the court. Howard hasn't played enough minutes to qualify himself in player rankings, but among players who do qualify, only one in the ACC — Eli Carter of Boston College — has a better assist rate.
Syracuse blocks its opponents shots on 12.9% of possessions, which ranks third among all ACC teams.
The Orange don't have a single exceptional shot blocker — though you could argue Lydon is close — but are instead aided by having several quality rim protectors.
Lydon blocks shots on 7.3% of possessions, while Dajuan Coleman does so on 5.3% of possessions and Tyler Roberson does on 2.7% of possessions. That puts those three players at fifth, 11th and 21st, respectively, in block percentage in the ACC. No other team has more than two shot blockers among the top 25 in the conference.
How does Syracuse stack up against other tournament hopefuls?
In ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi's most recent rankings, released on his Twitter page Saturday, Syracuse was in the NCAA Tournament field but only as one of the last four teams in.
But there were several teams ranked better than the Orange by Lunardi that are actually lower in the kenpom.com ratings. Syracuse is No. 47 according to Lunardi and No. 35 according to kenpom.com.
Here is a list of the teams that were ranked better than Syracuse by Lunardi but have a worse kenpom.com rating:
- Providence (No. 19 by Lunardi, No. 39 by kenpom.com)
- Dayton (No. 20, No. 37)
- Utah (No. 28, No. 41)
- Pittsburgh (No. 30, No. 49)
- Colorado (No. 32, No. 51)
- South Carolina (No. 33, No. 45)
- California (No. 35, No. 42.)
- Gonzaga (No. 37, No. 36)
- Butler (No. 38, No. 48)
- Washington (No. 40, No. 76)
- Clemson (No. 43, No. 57)
- LSU (No. 44, No. 59)
- Saint Joseph's (No. 45, No. 43)
- Monmouth (No. 46, No. 58)