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Syracuse basketball vs. Iona: Five things to watch

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The Orange look to make it 2-0 on the young season tonight vs. the Gaels.

NCAA Basketball: Cornell at Syracuse
Syracuse Orange guard Howard Washington (10) passes the ball against the Cornell Big Red during the second half at the Carrier Dome.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team tipped off the 2017-18 season with an impressive win over Cornell last Friday. 77-45.

Led by sophomore Tyus Battle, who scored a game-high 18 points, Syracuse had 11 players find the bottom of the net — including three walk-ons.

Freshman Oshae Brissett tailed a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Geno Thorpe added 12 points off the bench for the 1-0 Orange.

Syracuse held Cornell to just 25 percent from the floor and forced 15 turnovers.

Tonight, Syracuse hosts Iona (0-1). The Gaels are led by TK Edogi, who scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the team’s opening loss to Albany, 69-67, last Friday.

Here are five things to watch in Tuesday’s game:

1. Syracuse’s defense

Syracuse looked really good defensively on Friday against Cornell. The Big Red shot 25 percent from the floor and under 15 percent from 3. Jim Boeheim was upset a few times throughout the game for poor rotations, but otherwise seemed please with his team’s defensive effort.

Look for Syracuse to continue that play tonight against the Gaels, and also get into the full-court press to start a run that could put the game out of reach in the first half.

2. Bounce back shooting game for Brissett

Despite finishing with a double-double in his first collegiate game, freshman Oshae Brissett struggled to find his groove on Friday. He shot just 3-for-13 from the floor, but still managed to finish with 11 points and 10 boards. If Brissett can hit a few shots early to gain some confidence, we could see him in the high-teens or even 20’s tonight.

3. Fast start

Syracuse got out to an early 16-6 lead over Cornell which let the newcomers settle down. A fast start tonight against the Gaels would do the same in a comfortable Carrier Dome environment.

Also, truth be told, we don’t know how good this team is, or can/will be. Fast starts for the Orange could be imperative to the team’s success, especially in league games. Syracuse won’t be able to dig themselves out of early deficits against certain opponents. Iona isn’t one of them, but these tune-up games where SU needs to prepare for what’s ahead.

4. Howard Washington production

It wasn’t the debut freshman Howard Washington would’ve liked, but the skill set is there for him to do some damage this season. Jim Boeheim had the quick hook with him against Cornell, but I look for Washington to bounce back and have a solid night.

Washington is probably the purest floor general SU has on its roster. I like him to get in the scoring column and tally up a few assists, too.

5. Iona’s offensive attack

The Gaels made just 4-of-22 3-point attempts on Friday against Albany. If Syracuse can control the perimeter and keep Iona’s shooting in the dumps, this game could get ugly quick.

Iona’s only chance to keep this close, or make it a game beyond the first 20 minutes, is the 3-point shot. Going inside against Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe isn’t the Gaels recipe for success.

Look for the SU zone to extend out and force tough, contested 3-point attempts, which will force long rebounds and numbers the other way for the Orange.