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Syracuse vs. Eastern Michigan preview: Five things to watch

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Can the Orange bounce back?

NCAA Basketball: St. Bonaventure at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange knew they were getting a tough opponent in the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, but a loss wasn’t what they were expecting as a result. The Bonnies did a great job of containing Tyus Battle, holding him to 11 points in a resume-boosting win.

The Orange will have another out of conference test when the Eastern Michigan Eagles come into the Carrier Dome, looking to move to 9-3. The Eagles aren’t a hot topic on the college basketball circuit, but if we’ve learned one thing about this Syracuse team it is that no win will be handed to them this year.

NCAA Basketball: St. Bonaventure at Syracuse
Creating space for Tyus Battle needs to happen now.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Getting Tyus Battle some open looks

We all know that Tyus Battle has the skill set to beat his man off the dribble for easy baskets, but the opposing defenses as of late have been face-guarding the star shooting guard and not letting him get comfortable. Syracuse needs their best player to score at will if they want to win the games they should, and getting Battle open off the ball will help him have an easier time. It’s never easy being the focal point of an opposing team’s defensive scheme, but Battle has what it takes to solve the challenge with a little help from his teammates.

Fixing the turnovers

The Orange don’t have the most skilled personnel for a great half court offense, so limiting turnovers is crucial to combating their lack of shooting. Syracuse has turned the ball over at least 15 times in their last three games, something that needs to be addressed. Battle and Frank Howard need to do a better job of maintaining possession of the ball if they want to have any chance in ACC play.

NCAA Basketball: St. Bonaventure at Syracuse
Oshae Brissett has been the main bright spot in the Orange’s struggle from the free throw line.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Capitalizing at the charity strike

Not only have turnovers hindered their potential as of late, but Syracuse’s struggle at the free throw line certainly was a key contributor to their loss against the Bonnies. The Orange shot 64.3% (18-for-28) from the line in their last outing in a game where they lost by three. As previously mentioned, scoring in the half court is a challenge for this squad, so they need to hit their free throws, especially in a close contest.

Containing the Eagles’ offense

The Eagles have a three-headed monster on offense with Elijah Minnie, James Thompson IV, and Paul Jackson who combine for 52.7 points a game. They use their balanced inside-out attack to take advantage of lackadaisical defenses. Containing this high powered offense will help the Orange get out in transition off of defensive rebounds. The Orange need to slow down this dynamic scoring attack if they want to come away with a win.

Can Howard Washington make some crucial plays?

The Orange have found their lead guards in foul trouble early as of late which has led to some more minutes for freshman Howard Washington. The 6’3” guard hasn’t made any huge mistakes so far, but some more scoring production from Washington would be a massive spark coming off the bench. Washington isn’t being relied upon to lead this team this year, but they could use some of his advanced basketball IQ to come out in front in some close finishes.