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

The Devil who wore Orange returns... in purple!

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 06 Niagara at Notre Dame Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange (8-3) are back home as they welcome Greg Paulus and the Niagara Purple Eagles (3-6) to the JMA Wireless Dome on Thursday night at 5:00.

Here’s what we’re watching for in this game:

Kevin: Getting Bell and Taylor going

The Orange have done a great job attacking the rim but it would be nice to get the starting forwards going. Chris Bell has struggled the last two games and Justin Taylor hasn’t found his shooting stroke consistently all season. If these two can start hitting open shots, it’s going to make the Syracuse offense a lot harder to contain. This game could be a good opportunity to get them going.

Max: Work on your weakness (allowing offensive rebounds)

Syracuse should have no problems handling Niagara, who are one of the worst defensive teams in all of college basketball. With the game hopefully out of reach by halftime, I’d like to see the Orange shift focus toward dominating the defensive glass. SU is allowing an alarming 33.9% offensive rebounding rate, one of the lowest marks in the country. Make rebounding a point of emphasis in the locker room, and this one will be a good ole’ fashioned blowout.

Mike: Bring ‘em out!

Oregon was the first major opponent that SU’s bench was effective against, to the tune of an appropriate 44 points. I’m not expecting that kind of performance every night but more solid outings from Benny Williams, Quadir Copeland, and Kyle Cuffe would put the 6, 7, and 8 spots all on positive trends heading into conference play and a stretch where they will need to be effective to pull off upsets.

Dom: On-ball reps for the secondary guards

With ACC about to begin, Syracuse moving forward will be repeatedly counting on some of the support players to step up offensively to take more of the load off of Mintz. In Syracuse’s fast few games, Copeland has transformed into a legit spark plug off the bench, J.J. Starling is looking more comfortable by the day and Cuffe Jr. has had his moments. Autry should look to run some on-ball action for that trio and continue to build more confidence among the guards.

Szuba: Does Will Patterson get time?

As much as it’d be easy to watch for the three point defense given its about the only statistical category Niagara excels in, I’ll go with a different angle. Freshman center Will Patterson has yet to play in a game this season. We’ve had no official word of a redshirt yet, but if Syracuse pulls away like it should and Patterson doesn’t get into the game I’ll be convinced he’s redshirting this season.

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What will you be looking for in tonight’s game? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.