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Syracuse vs. Miami preview: Five things to watch

Hopefully a loss isn’t one of them.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is sort of in a tailspin right now. Since returning from another COVID-related pause, SU’s just 1-3, with defensive issues getting increasingly apparent with each game. Now 7-4 (1-3 in ACC play), the Orange are desperate for a win and need to beat the Miami Hurricanes to get back on track. Miami, for their own part, are just 6-6 (2-5) but also recently upset Louisville.

Before the Orange and Hurricanes tip off at 7 p.m. ET on ACC Network on Tuesday, we preview some of the most important things to watch out for.

Ajayi: Remember when Kadary Richmond used to get more minutes?

Well yeah, I missed those days too. Against Pittsburgh Kooks played 18 minutes, he played 16 minutes against UNC, only 6 minutes against Georgetown, and 19 minutes against Pittsburgh in the first matchup. We were used to seeing get at least 25+ minutes but for some reason he’s been seeing court less. Richmond is still one of NCAA’s leaders in steals and he is a freshmen that plays like a player who’s older. If he’s out there, Syracuse us guaranteed to get more stops considering his length to on close outs. The only thing he doesn’t bring is consistent perimeter shooting. But hey, what’s the point of scoring buckets if lack of defense has been one of main problems?

Christian: Hold your fire

With how limited Miami is at scoring the basketball, Syracuse needs to do everything it can to deny the Hurricanes the chance at the offensive end of the court. However, the Orange shot selection problems continue to plague Jim Boeheim’s squad. The added effect that the bad shot selection has is that Syracuse players never seem to be in the proper position to crash the offensive glass to secure an extra possession. Couple that with Syracuse’s tendency to take shots early in the shot clock and the Orange have been holding the ball for incredibly short periods of time on the offensive end. The Orange need to stop getting too trigger happy with every offensive possession in order to make the most of their opportunities while limiting Miami’s.

Kevin: Can Syracuse get the offense unlocked for a full game?

Miami’s struggled on the offensive end without Chris Lykes. The Hurricanes are averaging less than 70 points per game and their 12 assists show that ball movement isn’t a strength. They are going to look to grind it out and lean on Isaiah Wong to get a win but the Orange have more offensive firepower. Syracuse should try to avoid playing Miami’s game and look to get this one into the upper 70s/80s by taking good shots and moving without the ball.

Szuba: Joe Girard’s offense

Sophomore point guard Joe Girard has been inconsistent this season, but his scoring is still vital to this team. Syracuse is 4-0 in games when he scores double-figures and just 3-4 when he doesn’t. He needs to shoot the ball better (as do his teammates) to be effective. Can he get going against a Miami team that struggles to defend the perimeter? He scored two clutch buckets against the Hurricanes last year. Three of Girard’s four double-digit scoring efforts this season have been inside the Carrier Dome.

John: Marek on the boards

SU’s struggled on the glass this season, and that’s become more pronounced in recent games against teams with capable big men. It’s not to single out Marek Dolezaj, but he doesn’t necessarily have the size to fight it out for boards with a true center and with foul trouble a major concern, opponents seem to have figured out how to neutralize his ability to get rebounds. If he can find a way, though, the Orange are 6-1 in games where he collects at least five boards (the lone loss being Pitt).