The Syracuse Orange (8-9, 2-4) men’s basketball team will once again look to get back to .500 when they welcome the Clemson Tigers (10-7, 2-4) to the Dome for a late tip-off tonight. Can the Orange get a bit of positive momentum against Vice-Principal Brownell’s squad? Here’s what we’ll be looking for when these teams meet:
Kevin: Covering the 3-pt line
Syracuse just watched Florida State go 12-20 from deep and most of those were uncontested. Clemson’s 19th in the country when it comes to 3-point percentage at 38%. Al-Amir Dawes is the biggest threat at 40% and is the one Tiger who is launching from deep at a high rate. It’s up to the Orange defenders to locate him and prevent him from finding gaps in the zone.
Zeke: Can Jesse Stay in the game until the final buzzer sounds?
Jesse Edwards has fouled out of nine of Syracuse’s 17 games this season. His role for the Orange this season is irreplaceable, as Edwards is second in the ACC in blocks (3.1 per game) and is second on Syracuse in rebounds with 6.5 rebounds per game. He also leads Syracuse in FG percentage shooting 69.9% from the field per game while averaging 12 points. Edwards is the ultimate glue guy for the Orange, having a great shot blocking presence on defense and shooting efficiently in the painted area on offense. Out of the nine games Edwards has fouled out of this season, 5 of those games Syracuse lost without him. He broke his streak of fouling out of 5 consecutive games on Saturday and hopefully he can continue to stay in games and positively impact his team’s overall performance.
Szuba: Can Syracuse out-offense Clemson?
Usually when you think of Clemson the defense comes to the forefront, but this team is actually scoring the ball at its most efficient clip since 2017-18. No, Clemson shouldn’t have much of a problem putting points on the board tonight. The question for Syracuse is: can the Orange simply out-score Clemson? We know the zone has been categorically bad this season, so can Syracuse muster up more points than Clemson, which ranks just No. 88 — weaker than usual — in KenPom defensive efficiency? To go full John Madden: Whoever scores the most points is going to win the game.
Christian: Who’s in your zone?
As Kevin mentioned, keeping track of the Clemson three-point shooters is a big priority. This is doubly important as most of Clemson’s shooters are one-trick ponies. They’re either inside or outside scorers. Syracuse has to identify the shooters and properly rotate to them. The Orange also need to identify which players aren’t a threat to shoot from range and not commit too much attention to them, an issue Syracuse has had for a couple of years now. Over-rotations are still a big issue for the Orange defense, and it could be Syracuse’s undoing against the Tigers.