The Syracuse Orange (7-7, 1-2) men’s basketball team is hoping to return to the win column when they travel to play the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (12-3, 2-2) on Saturday afternoon. After the disappointing loss to Miami Syracuse is trying to avoid a three-game ACC losing streak. Here’s what we’ll be looking for when these teams meet:
Kevin: Second-half adjustments
Syracuse has let the last two games slip away and the mood around the team would be a lot different if they were 9-5 as opposed to 7-7. Jim Boeheim seemed to adjust the offense to go inside more against Miami and he tried a three-guard line-up to handle the pressure and get Joe Girard off the ball. Neither resulted in a win but can Boeheim tinker enough to turn these close losses into wins? The Orange are giving up over 42 points to opponents in the 2nd half so something needs to be fixed to try and secure a lead.
Szuba: Keep Alondes Williams in check & locate Isaiah Mucius
The Syracuse zone has been rather challenged this year, to put it mildly. Wake Forest is 9-0 when Alondes Williams scores 16 points or more and just 3-3 when he falls short of that benchmark. Can Syracuse find a way to limit his scoring?
Isaiah Mucius is shooting a career best 40% from outside this season and 79% of his total shots come from beyond the arc. Wake isn’t a great shooting team overall and we know the zone is giving up a plethora of 3s, so Syracuse will have to pay extra attention to the 6-foot-8 forward on the perimeter.
John: Winning in the paint
I said something similar before Syracuse’s game vs. Miami, and the Orange let an efficient ‘Canes team beat them in the paint by a 34-23 margin. Well, Wake is one of the most accurate two-point shooting teams in the country at 58.4%, and four of the Deacons’ regular rotation players are 6-foot-8 or taller. Can’t say that provides much hope for Syracuse if the defense looks like it has lately, especially in the final minutes.
Christian: Rotate the lineup
I know Boeheim wants to keep his starters on the floor as much as possible given each player’s potential to explode offensively. Whether you agree with that strategy or not, the starters will play at the end of the game. How fresh they are is up to Boeheim when he wants to bring in the bench. However, the starters usually play close or all of the final 20 minutes in the second half. If Syracuse wants to play with the starters at the end of the game, they’ve got to rest before that point in the second half.