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Syracuse vs. Toledo preview: Five things to watch

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The Orange look to make it 5-0 on the season.

NCAA Basketball: Oakland at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team improved to 4-0 after an impressive victory over Oakland earlier this week.

Sophomore guard Tyus Battle continued to lead the offense, while 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu recorded his first career double-double. Frank Howard added a solid game at point guard, scoring 18 points and dishing out six assists.

The 24-point victory was the highest margin since SU’s opening night triumph over Cornell.

Toledo will present a few challenges for the Orange. The Rockets come into Friday’s game with a 3-0 record, including a win over Oakland.

Here are five things to watch for in tonight’s game:

1. Bourama Sidibe’s knee

Freshman center Bourama Sidibe was limited against Oakland on Monday with soreness in his knee. SU head coach Jim Boeheim said in his press conference after the victory over Oakland that he wanted to rest Sidibe in the second half if he could. It turned out Chukwu was able to handle business inside, and Bourama received his rest.

His status for tonight’s game is unknown. If he does play, it’ll be interesting to watch his comfort level and if he favors his knee.

2. Comfortable in the Dome

Syracuse is looking to make it 5-0 at the Carrier Dome this season on Friday night. The Orange have yet to travel outside of Syracuse for a game. Can SU keep up the home success? Let’s home so.

3. Toledo guard Jaelan Sanford

Sanford, a 6-foot-3 junior, leads Toledo with over 23 points per game. He’s coming off of a 31-point effort against St. Joe’s in which the Rockets won by nine. He’s shooting over 50 percent from the field, but is just 4-of-21 from beyond-the-arc. He grabs, on average, four boards a game and dishes out just over four assists.

As Sanford goes, Toledo goes.

NCAA Basketball: Oakland at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

4. SU’s defense

In Monday’s win, Syracuse’s defense was the most impressive piece. The Orange shut down Oakland’s two leading scorers and held the Golden Grizzles well under their season average of points in a game.

Toledo has four players that average double figures, and, for the most part, take care of the basketball. The Rockets average 11 turnovers per game. The 2-3 zone might enhance that number, but SU’s half court defense will need to be on in order to snag win No. 5.

5. Tyus Battle’s scoring streak

Will Tyus Battle continue to dominant on the offensive end for Syracuse? We all hope so.

If Battle goes cold, or has a cold night in general, Syracuse could find themselves in quite a bit of trouble. Geno Thorpe has shown flashes of his ability to score, but also has proven to be a high volume shooter. Other than Thorpe, who only played 13 minutes on Monday, SU is still looking for another scorer to step up.

Freshman Oshae Brissett could be that player, but we’re still looking for more consistency. He still looks nervous, which is expected, but it’s time for him to play like the highly-touted prospect he was.