After a nail-biting win against Maryland, the Syracuse Orange will look to pull off the upset against the Kansas Jayhawks in the Hoophall Miami Invitational. The Orange will need more big time plays from Frank Howard, Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett if they want to continue their perfect start to the season.
Kansas is by far the best team Syracuse will have faced yet, as they come into this contest with the same 6-0 record as the Orange; Kansas also moved up in the AP Poll this week from No. 3 to No. 2. Kansas has one marquee win against Kentucky this year, but don’t get me wrong, the Orange need a perfect performance to pull this one out.
How much healthier will Tyus Battle be?
Despite leading the team in scoring, and hitting the eventual game winning shot, Battle was nowhere near his full self (Jim Boeheim said he was “about 50 percent”). Battle was a warrior though as he hit a number of floaters, his go-to shot, along with a go-ahead three off a drive from Frank Howard.
Kansas is a whole different kind of monster compared to Maryland, so the Orange are going to need a much healthier Battle if they want any shot in this game. Having Battle’s aggressive play will be crucial when they look to counter the Jayhawks’ length and athleticism.
Frank Howard’s big game performances
Howard answered the critics who say he doesn’t perform well in big games with a monster effort against Maryland: 15 points, 10 assists, and seven steals.
Howard controlled the pace of play during all 40 minutes of the game, but doing the same against the Jayhawks will be a lot easier said than done. Howard needs to control the ball and get in the lane if he wants to continue proving his doubters wrong.
Getting key stops against the multi-leveled Kansas attack
The Orange are built on their defense this year, but their backbone is going to have a massive challenge come their way—the Kansas offense. The Jayhawks have five players averaging double figures as they use their athleticism and lethal shooting to terrorize teams.
The Orange didn’t do a good job getting out on Maryland shooters, as they saw Kevin Huerter nearly beat Syracuse by himself. The Jayhawks are led by senior guard Devonte' Graham, but containing him alone won’t get the job done. This is going to be a 40 minute challenge for the Orange, but containing the perimeter is a good way to start for their quest to 7-0.
Oshae Brissett’s shooting struggles
We’ve seen the great talent that Brissett has in this young season, but the freshman forward has yet to shoot 50 percent in a game this year. He has contributed with his rebounding excellence as he leads the team with 9.8 boards per game.
Brissett has shown that he has the ability to get in the lane with ease, but finishing around the rim hasn’t come easy for the freshman. He has the ability to be a dominant player for the Orange, but Brissett needs to find the bottom of the net more often if Syracuse wants to pull off this upset.
The rebound battle
The Orange managed to outrebound Maryland, but controlling the glass against Kansas will be a key to giving Syracuse any shot at winning this game. Kansas has a potent offense of its own, so giving them extra looks on the offensive end will only make the Orange’s lives harder.
It’s known that the Orange don’t have the most efficient half-court offense, so grabbing offensive rebounds will allow for them to stay within striking distance throughout the game. Syracuse needs a few breaks to go their way on Saturday, and winning the rebound battle will be a good way to give them a chance against the Jayhawks.