The Syracuse Orange came alive against the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday night, hitting 14 of 30 threes and finishing with a season-high 22 assists. The win moved the Orange to 14-5 overall (and 5-1 in the ACC), but now they’ll have one of their hardest tests of the season: a trip to face the No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies (15-3, 4-2).
Elijah Hughes carried the Orange from deep against the Hurricanes (18 of his 22 points came from deep), but Syracuse can’t rely solely on the long-ball Saturday night if they want to pick up another road win against a ranked opponent.
That said, can SU stay hot for three?
It was truly something to watch, as Syracuse’s kryptonite became their most needed strength Thursday night. Five players for the Orange hit a three, as Hughes’s six three-pointers led the way for Syracuse’s 14th win of the season.
The ball was swinging around the perimeter for Syracuse, as it seemed like Hughes and Buddy Boeheim (12 points against Miami) had an open shot from deep every other possession. The Orange are going to need a big shot when things get tough on the road, so let’s hope Thursday’s hot night from deep travels down south.
Tyus Battle in the first half
Battle was held scoreless in the first half against Miami, but the star shooting guard managed to put up 10 points in the second half of play. The Orange had enough help to pick up the slack for their leading scorer’s tough start, but Syracuse is going to need their leader to carry the load from the start of Saturday’s showdown if they want to come out with the win.
Can we get an Oshae Brissett breakout game? Please!
Brissett is arguably the most talented player for the Orange, but the sophomore forward has struggled to play well consistently this year. Brissett has scored over 20 points just twice this season, and the time is now for the Canadian forward to dominate like we saw him do last year.
Brissett can get in the lane at will, but he needs finish around the rim more often for him to truly impact this team on the offensive end. Saturday night is a big game for the Orange, and Brissett has a chance to showcase why he is the most talented player wearing orange.
Slowing down Nickeil Alexander-Walker
The Hokies have four players who average double figures in scoring, and it’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker who leads the way for them with 18.3 points per game. Alexander-Walker is shooting 44 percent from deep this year, and we know the Orange have the tendency to let specific players get hot from three. The zone stepped up against the Hurricanes, holding them to under 30 points in both halves, but the Hokies are a whole different story, and it starts with limiting Alexander-Walker’s production.
Will it be another block party?
Syracuse is starting to rack up the blocks as of late, as they finished with 11 rejections against the Hurricanes. Paschal Chukwu finished with five blocks of his own, as he was able to dominate the inside of the paint against the smaller Miami players with his 7’2” stature. Syracuse will need to rely on their defense in big games, so they’ll need their big men, and the surprising proficient block artist Elijah Hughes, to dominate on defense if they want to keep this one within striking distance late.