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Things to watch for when Syracuse basketball hosts Wake Forest

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Looking to close out January with a win

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange (9-11, 3-6) men’s basketball team hopes to avoid a three-game losing streak when they host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (17-4, 7-3) on Saturday night. The Orange lost at Wake in overtime and will be looking to get a split of the series. Here’s what we’ll be looking for when these teams meet:

Kevin: Keep Alondes Williams outside

In the first meeting Williams went for 25 and 12 and he’s leading Wake in scoring, rebounding and assists on the season. Williams is shooting 62.7% on 2-pt attempts this season and he’s the guy who can cause the Syracuse zone to collapse leading to open shots. If the Orange want to win this game, they need to turn him into a perimeter shooter and keep him out of the lane.

Christian: The forgotten problem

So much has gone wrong with Syracuse over the past couple of games that one of the Orange’s biggest issues has been swept under the radar. Unfortunately, that issue is a large reason as to why Syracuse struggled to pull away from Wake Forest in the first meeting between the two teams this season. In that game, Jesse Edwards fouled out with nine minutes remaining in regulation. Coach Boeheim responded by going to a small lineup with Jimmy Boeheim at the five and Benny Williams on the wing. The Demon Deacons took that opportunity to score at will inside. As much as fans want to focus on the other glaring issues on the floor, keeping players on the court needs to be priority number one. Keep Jesse on the floor, and feed him.

Szuba: Jesse Edwards’ response

After the road loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, Jim Boeheim said — amongst other things — the team needs Jesse Edwards to do more, but he doesn’t think Edwards is capable of it. How will Edwards react to that? As Christian mentions, in the first meeting the big man fouled out and was held to his ACC low of 20 minutes. If Syracuse has a shot at upsetting Wake, its starting center figures to play a big part in that. That, and Syracuse desperately needs someone to consistently step up alongside Buddy Boeheim. Is Edwards that guy and will Syracuse give him that chance by feeding him more in the post?