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Syracuse vs. Buffalo preview: Five things to watch

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Can the Orange put Saturday behind them?

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

After suffering a disappointing loss to the Old Dominion Monarchs, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team will look to bounce back in a big way against the No. 14 ranked Buffalo Bulls Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome scheduled for an 8 p.m. tip.

The Syracuse offense went dormant in the second half against the Monarchs, but the Orange will need to learn from their mistakes quickly if they want to beat arguably the best team they’ve faced yet. Here are five things to watch for Tuesday night.

The Syracuse offense

After winning a stressful, yet rewarding game against the Georgetown Hoyas, Syracuse looked like a completely different team against Old Dominion. Tyus Battle got little help from Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard in the scoring column as the two combined for just 18 points on 5-18 shooting.

Too many times the Orange were standing around and watching the ball rather than moving and trying to create opportunities in the lane—reminiscent of last year’s offense. Syracuse needs their offense to move in order to get easy shots, especially against a team like Buffalo with impressive talent and two solid defenders in Davonta Jordan and Dontay Caruthers.

The turnover battle

Syracuse finished with 13 turnovers against the Monarchs, which gave them 15 points off of turnovers. Syracuse doesn’t have the most prolific offense to say the least, so they need to make sure they aren’t giving away opportunities to score via turnovers. The Orange need to get in the lane in order to see success on offense, but it’ll be important for Battle, Howard and Brissett to take care of the ball once they get inside.

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

Where is the center production?

Coach Jim Boeheim mentioned the lack of success from his centers against the Monarchs, as they finished with zero points on just one shot combined. The Orange aren’t asking for dominant offensive games from their big men, but they do need them to use their size around the rim to their advantage. The Orange run a lot of pick and rolls, and while it is mainly to get the ball handler open, Syracuse needs the screener, typically Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe, to get in a position to score off of the screen.

Slowing down the Buffalo offense

The Bulls are led by CJ Massinburg who averages 17.1 points per game, but they also have three other players scoring double figures every night. Syracuse needs their offense to wake up in order to pull off the upset, but they will need to rely on their defense first. It won’t be easy, especially after what happened Saturday, but the Orange need to get back to their roots in order to bounce back.

Will this be Frank Howard’s breakout game?

Howard has yet to score double digits in a game this year, and he has had six opportunities to do so. After averaging 14.4 points per game last year, the senior point guard hasn’t been the same after returning from injury. The Orange need Howard to be the player he was last year if they want to reach their full potential—the Buffalo game would be a good time to return to his dominant self.