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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for versus Ohio

Can the Orange keep the winning streak alive?

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC/SEC Challenge-Alabama at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (7-1) will look to claim its first road win of this season Saturday afternoon against the Ohio Bobcats (2-4). Syracuse’s strong start in non-conference play continues to put the team into both fringe AP top-25 consideration and an improved standing in ESPN’s latest bracketology update.

The Orange are coming off a recent 79-57 home win against Northeastern, giving the program its 24th consecutive non-conference win at the JMA Wireless Dome. Despite Ohio’s struggles, Syracuse’s lone loss this year was on the road and playing better away from the 315 will be a major factor to how successful this year’s team will be.

Nonetheless, Syracuse should be the clear favorites even on the road. Last year, the Bobcats finished 6-23 with a 2-9 record in non-conference play and just four wins in the Mid-American Conference. Ohio is coming off back-to-back losses against Longwood and #12 Ohio State.

Tip-off between Syracuse and Ohio is at 1 p.m. EST in the Convocation Center. The game will also be available for stream on ESPN+.

Here’s what to watch for:

Being quicker from the jump

In the Orange’s last game, Northeastern was prepared right from the start. Syracuse was really unable to pull away until later in the second half. Yet again, it was the offense that proved to be the difference-maker: Syracuse outscored Northeastern 47-30 in the third and fourth quarters combined.

Unlike Northeastern, I don’t expect Ohio to have nearly the same scoring output to keep up with Syracuse. Getting a commanding road win would be another confidence booster before the Orange head back to the Dome to finish up the non-conference slate. A strong start from Syracuse could put this game away pretty early.

Unselfish offense

One of the dominant storylines from this season so far is life being much easier for Dyaisha Fair, who had to shoulder much of the scoring burden last year. Georgia Woolley and Alaina Rice continue to look great as the second and third perimeter options for Syracuse, while the duo of Kyra Wood and Alyssa Latham shined throughout November.

Against Northeastern, the distribution of the offense was pretty unselfish. Six players finished between six and 13 field goal attempts, while eight difference players finished with at least two baskets. Yes, Woolley and Fair had 17 points and 14 points, respectively, to still lead the Orange. But even Syracuse’s reserves, like Sophie Burrows and Saniaa Wilson, each finished with seven points apiece.

Hopefully, Syracuse can continue putting out quality offense moving forward without needing to count on Fair as much as the team did last season.

Look at the bigger picture

We know we should be wary of counting the chickens before the eggs hatch, but the road ahead for Syracuse in these next two weeks looks pretty clear and promising. Ohio is Syracuse’s last road opponent until January 4. After Ohio, all that remains in the non-conference slate is home games against Cornell and Saint Francis (PA). By all the numbers, the Orange are expected to finish the job and win out in non-con the rest of the way.

Syracuse will face some early tests once ACC play starts. Wins like these are not only motivating for the program, but they put Syracuse in as good as a spot as possible before the conference gauntlet begins (keep in mind that nine ACC teams are projected to make the NCAA Tournament, the most of any P5 conference).

Every win counts if Syracuse is serious about being in this year’s tournament. The energy has to be consistent and energetic, even when the team will be as much of a favorite as it will be all season.

Syracuse versus Ohio preview by the numbers

All-time: Syracuse is 4-0 versus Ohio, but Saturday’s game will be the first time the Orange travel on the road to face the Bobcats.

Last matchup: The Orange last defeated the Bobcats 66-54 at home in November 2019.

Win/loss implications: A win pushes Syracuse to five wins in a row and continues to keep the momentum going, while a loss would bring all the success so far this season to an unexpected halt.

Prediction: Syracuse’s offense has been electric so far for pretty much all of this season, and it’s hard to see Ohio do much about that (especially on offense). I’ve got the Orange winning 82-60.

Syracuse vs. Ohio Team Stats

Statistical Categories Syracuse Ohio
Statistical Categories Syracuse Ohio
PPG 80.9 63.8
Opponent PPG 59.6 75.3
Margin of Victory plus-21.3 minus-11.5
FG% 45% 40%
Defensive FG% 37% 41%
3FG% 34% 34%
Defensive 3FG% 31% 27%
FT% 73% 62%
RPG 43.9 32.8
APG 14.4 11.3
T/O 14 24.2
A/T ratio 1 0.5
SPG 9 10.5
BPG 5.5 2.2