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Syracuse vs. UConn preview: Five things to watch

How many overtimes this time around?

NCAA Basketball: Morehead State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team didn’t look its best in the last game against the Morehead State Eagles. But the 15th-ranked team in the nation still managed to come out of their first week of regular season play with a 2-0 record.

This week, Syracuse will look to keep their hot start to the season going with a win against the Connecticut Huskies, a team that has had its fair share of history against coach Jim Boeheim and the Orange. UConn also come into this game at 2-0, so you could say this is Syracuse’s first real “test” of the season — as they’re up against an undefeated team outside of the Carrier Dome (Madison Square Garden).

NCAA Basketball: Morehead State at Syracuse
Tyus Battle and the Syracuse Orange take on the UCONN Huskies in Madison Square Garden this Thursday at 7:00 pm.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Will second half Tyus Battle show up?

Tyus Battle struggled to find his rhythm in the first half against Morehead State, and after only shooting 3-of-10 in the opener, the Orange’s star guard was off to a shaky start to his season. However, Battle turned the fans’ nerves into excitement in the second half, with his best 20 minutes so far.

Battle went 5-for-6 in the second half, and scored 18 of his 23 points in the second frame. Those 23 points were a team-high too. Battle was aggressive from the start of the second half, looking for his go-to pull up jumper from the midrange. With Frank Howard’s status once again in question, the Orange are going to need the second half version of Tyus Battle to show up Thursday night if they want the offense to continue putting up points.

Can Oshae Brissett consistently finish around the rim?

Oshae Brissett was easily on his way to a 30-point game against Morehead State, as the star sophomore scored 14 points in the first 20 minutes of play. Brissett was getting to the rim with ease, and he was finishing those shots around the rim too—the second half was a bit different.

Brissett was still making it seem like a walk in the park with his ability to get to the tin, but he had trouble finishing plays near the rim. After shooting 5-of-10 from the field in the first half, Brissett shot just 1-for-9 in the last 20-minutes of play. If the Orange are going to take that next step, they’re going to need their dynamic forward to become an even greater presence in the paint.

When will Buddy Boeheim get hot?

All training camp/preseason long, Buddy Boeheim’s shooting ability was one of the hottest topics surrounding the Orange; it was so hot, that Coach Boeheim gave his son a spot in the starting lineup (though partly out of necessity, sure). However, Buddy has shot 2-of-18 overall from the field in his first two collegiate games. Syracuse needs Buddy to keep the opposing defense on its toes with consistent perimeter shooting if they want to not live out last year’s lack-of-shooting narrative all over again.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Slowing down Jalen Adams

The Huskies are led by Jalen Adams on the offensive end who is averaging 18 points per game in this young season. The senior guard is coming off of a season where he put up 18.1 ppg, so you know that Adams is already an established, legitimate scorer. The Orange will look to contain Adams on the perimeter by trying to make him take on the taller Syracuse interior defenders.

Jalen Carey’s ball control

Jalen Carey has shown flashes of the player he can be in his first two collegiate games, but the freshman point guard had his fair share of struggles controlling the ball in his last outing. Carey had four turnovers in the game, as he had a hard time getting the ball up the floor and setting the Orange up into their offense. With Syracuse’s point guard situation still in question, the Orange will need Carey to give them minutes without many turnovers in order to make due until Howard returns and/or Howard Washington can provide a bit of a lift, too.