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

Playing at the Pentagon... no not that one

NCAA Basketball: Hall of Fame Series-Las Vegas-Georgia at Oregon Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday isn’t just for football this week as the Syracuse Orange (7-3) will take on the Oregon Ducks (7-2) in a big non-conference game. This game will take place in South Dakota and Tip off is at 1:00 on Sunday December 17th on the CBS Sports Network.

Here’s what we’re watching for:

Kevin: Attack the paint

I mentioned that the Orange were successful getting to the rim against Georgetown and if Oregon is missing N’Faly Dante, it’s important for them to focus on getting the ball inside. Oregon’s one of the better three-point shooting teams in the country but Syracuse can’t afford to try and match them shot for shot. Attacking the rim and getting to the foul line can slow down the Ducks offense.

Dom: Control the ball

Oregon only boasts a middle-of-the-pack offense in the Pac-12, but the Ducks are potent in two areas Syracuse has struggled in at times this year — defending the three and avoiding costly turnovers. The Ducks are making threes at the third-best rate in the Pac-12 and is the best in the conference in steals. Extra possession for Oregon, whether via offensive rebounds or Syracuse turnovers, could prove to be a brutal blow.

Max: Can J.J. Starling and Quadir Copeland keep it up?

The pair looked unstoppable against Georgetown last weekend, combining for 35 points and 9 rebounds. Starling knocked down all three of his three-point attempts, while Copeland shot 6-for-7 from the field. The Ducks’ defense is much better than the Hoyas was, but isn’t the toughest the Orange have faced this year (57th in Kenpom). If these two can maintain their momentum, Syracuse will pull out the win in Sioux Falls.

Szuba: Mintz to the line

Judah Mintz is coming off a game in which he got to the free throw line 15 times. He’s third in the nation in fouls drawn (per 40 minutes). More generally, Oregon is foul prone so this would be a good opportunity for the Syracuse guards to do what they do best: get downhill and put pressure on the defense.

Mike: Own the Moment

This is still one of the strangest locales for a prime matchup you could pick, but it doesn’t change that both Syracuse and Oregon tend to get brownie points for their brand recognition. I’m not saying that the Ducks aren’t a quality team to begin with, but a win here is going to be over-inflated when looking at playoff resumes. If there’s a “Syracuse basketball is back” moment to be made before the new year, this is it. Lock in for the full 40.

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What are you watching for in this one?