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Syracuse basketball vs. Colgate preview: Five things to watch

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Can the Orange make it 8-1 on the year?

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Syracuse Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange (7-1) took care of business in the rivalry game against UConn on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden with a 72-63 victory.

Matthew Moyer had a breakout game, scoring a career-high 18 points and grabbing eight boards in the process. Tyus Battle continued his hot scoring streak, adding a team-high 22 points as the Orange improved to 7-1 on the season.

Freshman Oshae Brissett tallied his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 16 points and snagging 10 rebounds while playing 38 minutes. He’s now played 118 of 120 possible minutes in the last three games.

The Colgate Raiders (3-5) will enter Saturday’s game against the Orange (7-1) on a three-game losing streak. The Raiders three victories this season have come against Cornell, UMBC and Columbia. Colgate is led by Will Rayman, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, who is scoring over 16 points per game.

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

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Syracuse Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

1. Which Matt Moyer will we see?

As I stated above, and as you all know, we saw a completely different Matthew Moyer against UConn than the previous seven games. The 6-foot-8 forward was all over the place on Tuesday. His put-back dunk off an Oshae Brissett missed 3-pointer got him going, and he never slowed down.

It’s easier to get up for a game against UConn at MSG than it is for Colgate on a Saturday afternoon in Syracuse. Which Matt Moyer will we see?

2. Will Frank Howard bounce back?

Howard had his worst game of the season on Tuesday. He turned the ball over nine times and went 1-of-10 from the floor. He scored five points, tallied five assists but constantly threw the SU offense out of rhythm with the poor play.

Howard ensured Syracuse fans that it wouldn’t happen again. Jim Boeheim said Frank wouldn’t play that badly again this season. Outside of Tuesday, Frank’s been really, really good for the Orange. With over 14 points per game and six assists — Syracuse will need every bit of that moving forward.

3. Trap game

This is a classic trap game with a huge rivalry game against Georgetown next week. Not that I believe Colgate is very good, but Syracuse can’t overlook the Raiders with eyes on the Hoyas a week from Saturday. Show up on Saturday, take care of business and then the team will have a full week to prepare for Georgetown and their 500 fans that will be in attendance.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Syracuse Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

4. Top 25 with a win?

With a win, Syracuse will be 8-1 on the season with the lone loss to then-undefeated (nice W, Hop) and 2nd-ranked Kansas. A ranking may not come after a win over Colgate, but Syracuse is starting to jump on the radar over voters even if the two biggest wins were over struggling Maryland and UConn. SU gained a few votes in the coaches poll this past week.

Either way, Syracuse is trending in the right direction.

5. Finish strong

With just a few minutes left in the first half against UConn, Syracuse was up by 17 and looking to seriously pull away from the Huskies. A few bad turnovers by Frank Howard and Tyus Battle shrunk that lead down to single digits at the half.

Luckily it didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but Syracuse needs to clean things up towards the end of halves. The Orange played really well down the stretch against Maryland at the Dome. They’ll need to tighten up moving forward. Saturday’s a great opportunity to start that trend.