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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs Oakland

The Orange look to not pull a Louisville at home.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

You’re telling me the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team loses to Colgate and Bryant at home but comes up with a win on the road against Notre Dame? Nothing makes sense anymore.

The Orange (4-4) will look to get back to an above-.500 record Tuesday evening against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-8), who are entering the contest on a five-game losing streak. Should be an easy win, right? Should is the key word; the Orange cannot afford to look ahead to their rivalry game against Georgetown on Saturday.

With all that in mind, here’s what to watch for against the Golden Grizzlies.

Dom: Can Girard return to form?

After a well-documented shooting slump in the past couple of games, Joe Girard came back to life with a 20-point performance in 37 minutes of action against the Fighting Irish. Compared to last season, Girard’s efficiency has plummeted across the board. Maybe a matchup against a favorable defense like Oakland could give JG3 the spark to return back to what he does best. If Syracuse wants to keep its season alive, Girard needs to play like he did last year.

Mike: Second chance scoring

The Golden Grizzlies are one of the worst rebounding teams in the country, as they’re in the bottom 20% on both sides of the court. Meanwhile, the Orange have a certain Dutchman who averages the 5th-most rebounds per game in all of DI basketball. Long story short: the Orange should be very relaxed when shooting the ball, because they’ll have plenty of second chances to make up for misses. Expect at least a few fast-break opportunities as well.

Kevin: Line-up change

Jim Boeheim was not happy with his starting forwards. Chris Bell and Benny Williams combined for two rebounds in 32 minutes of action on Saturday. Down the stretch Boeheim turned to Justin Taylor and Jon Bol Ajak (who didn’t record a rebound either). Taylor grabbed five boards in his 30 minutes and his ability to make shots opens up the floor for the Orange. I don’t think it’s a matter of if Taylor starts at SF, but when.

Christian: My ball

The Notre Dame game could’ve gotten out of hand quickly for Syracuse, but a big reason why the Orange stayed close with the Irish was because of a lack of turnovers. Syracuse committed a season-low four turnovers, which is only the second game the Orange had single-digit turnovers. Judah Mintz has been the main turnover culprit this season and Syracuse needs him to take care of the ball as his turnovers usually lead to fast break points. You’re not worried about too much against Oakland so fundamentals such as ball security is something to continue working on.

Szuba: Forward scoring

As much as Syracuse needs Girard to score to be effective, it’s imperative in games like this to get some of the freshmen and the complimentary players involved. Oakland is one of the worst defensive teams in all of division one. The Orange won’t need scoring as much from guys like Mintz, Girard and Edwards in this game. So can the underclassmen at forward find ways to score? Will Jim Boeheim continue to give John Bol Ajak minutes? Syracuse needs more production from that group and this is as good of a game as any to get those guys involved.

What will you be watching for against Oakland?