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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs Boston College

Can Syracuse build some momentum heading into February?

Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange (14-6, 4-4) head into a two-game road swing this week starting tonight against the Boston College Eagles (12-8, 3-6) at a Syracuse-friendly Conte Forum. The Orange won the first meeting 69-59 and looks for the series sweep tonight.

Tip-off is at 7:00 on the ACC Network and here’s what we’re watching for:

Kevin: Active defense

In the first meeting, the Orange swiped 17 steals to help them overcome a poor shooting performance. Can they continue to apply pressure on the perimeter against a BC team that wants to use their size advantage? Quinten Post was terrible in the first meeting, but he and Devin McGlockton could cause problems on the offensive glass. Creating turnovers and getting out in transition would be a great recipe for Syracuse to get their crowd behind them in this one.

Szuba: Boooooooooooooom

Syracuse has been an inconsistent shooting team throughout the season but Chris Bell and JJ Starling are both coming off of good shooting performances, combining for 7-15 from beyond the arc. Starling seems to have found his rhythm after retooling his form and Bell had a strong game in the first meeting with Boston College. The Eagles roll out the worst three-point shooting defense in the league. So with that said, can Syracuse keep its shooting going in what should be a friendly gym tonight?

Finn: Limit Claudell Harris Jr.

As Szuba mentioned, BC is very weak at defending the three. On offense, the numbers are slightly better as the team has hit 153 three-balls at a 35% clip. These metrics do not explain the whole story as the Eagles are massively reliant on Claudell Harris Jr. to provide a threat from deep. Harris Jr. has scored nearly 30% of all of the Eagle's threes, and his ability to stretch defenses is crucial for the team's offense. In most of the Eagle’s losses this season, Harris has been kept relatively quiet, and if Syracuse can limit Harris to a minimal factor on Tuesday’s game, it could be decisive.

Dom: Another big day from the guards

Interestingly, Syracuse beat Boston College by 10 points earlier this year even though Judah Mintz and J.J. Starling combined for 12 points on 2/10 shooting. Starling is coming off a career-high 26 points versus NC State, and Mintz has performed at his best when he can score while also serving as a reliable playmaker. I don’t expect to see Post score zero points and turn the ball over seven times, and BC shot well below its season averages last time around. This feels like a game where Mintz and Starling have to play like the two-best players on the court.

Mike: A Justin Taylor reset

While several Orange starters popped off on Saturday, it was another very quiet outing for Justin Taylor, who attempted just one shot during 15 minutes of action. He normally makes up for his lack of scoring with back-end play, but even the rebounding numbers have diminished recently. I’m still in the camp that Benny is better for coming off the bench and closing games, but JT needs to help start them off right and that means having some impact on the offensive side.

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Now it’s your turn, what will you be watching for?