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Syracuse vs. Clemson preview: Five things to watch

Can the Orange end the regular season with a win?

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange were torched from deep against the number two ranked Virginia Cavaliers, but they have a chance to close out the regular season with a quadrant one win on the road against the Clemson Tigers on Saturday.

The Orange beat Clemson the first time these two sides met, but a win in Littlejohn Coliseum is not an easy task, so the Orange will need to play aggressive from the tip if they want to head into tournament play with a win.

Here are five things to watch.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Syracuse
Tyus Battle really struggled against De’Andre Hunter’s stellar defense last Monday.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Can Tyus Battle put the Virginia game behind him?

De’Andre Hunter, arguably the best defender in the nation, made last Monday’s game a true challenge for Tyus Battle, as it seemed like he couldn’t get one clean look off against the lockdown defender. Well, the good news is that the Tigers don’t have a De’Andre Hunter, so Battle should have a better time getting to his spots.

Battle didn’t have the best game back on January 9th when these teams first met, as he finished with 12 points on just 4-13 shooting. However, we know Battle is a gifted scorer with a next-play mentality, so look for the 6’6” guard to be aggressive from the tip on Saturday.

Defending the three

Virginia put on a shooting clinic on Monday as the Cavaliers were nearly automatic from deep, finishing the game 18-25 from deep. The Orange held the Tigers to just 5-20 shooting from deep in their first outing, but we know Marcquise Reed can explode from three at any moment. The Orange should be focused on defending the perimeter after allowing 18 threes last Monday, and containing Reed from deep is a good place to start.

Can Marek Dolezaj be a mismatch again?

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Just about every time Marek Dolezaj is on the floor, he becomes a mismatch for the opponent due to his versatility and passing expertise. When the Orange first played the Tigers, Dolezaj had one of his best games of the season, as he started at the center position and finished with 10 points, four assists, four rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.

We know Dolezaj can do it all for the Orange, and Syracuse should be in a good position to win on Saturday if the Slovakian forward plays like he did on January 9th.

Taking care of the ball

Syracuse doesn’t have the most adept offense in the country to say the least, so it needs to make sure they don’t turn the ball over if it wants to be able to score enough points to win games. In the first meeting between these two sides, Syracuse finished with 15 turnovers, as Elijah Hughes and Oshae Brissett combined for nine of those.

The Orange need Hughes and Brissett to have the ball in their hands in order to be productive scorers, but they need to focus on limiting their turnovers if the Orange are going to end the regular season with a win.

The battle of the boards

Coach Jim Boeheim has mentioned that this isn’t the best rebounding team he has coached, and rebounding will be crucial for the Orange if they want to win on Saturday. The Tigers grabbed one more rebound than the Orange in their first meeting, but Paschal Chukwu did not play that entire game.

With Chukwu back in the rotation, look for Syracuse to try and be aggressive on the boards by limiting the Tigers to one shot per possession.