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

Can Adrian Autry get this back on track?

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange (14-8, 5-6) are back home and tonight they look to end their two-game losing streak when the Louisville Cardinals (7-15, 2-9) visit. Tip-off is at 7:00 on the ACC Network and here’s what we’re watching for:

Kevin: Patience on offense

Louisville just put up 101 on Florida State, but they are giving up 78 points per game on the season. When you’re facing a team waiting for their coach to be fired, there’s no incentive for them to do anything but put up some offensive stats to raise their profile for the next coach, either at Louisville, or in the transfer portal. If Syracuse can get out to an early led and make it uncomfortable for the Cardinals, it will help their chances. The Orange are a lot more engaged on the defensive end, so the best way to help the defense is by playing smart, effective offense.

Max: Keep ya head up

There’s no sugarcoating last Saturday’s disaster against Wake Forest, but there’s also no time for Syracuse to dwell on the loss. Luckily, the Orange face, on paper, one of their softer ACC matchups in Louisville. It’s a perfect rebound opportunity against a Cardinals team that doesn’t shoot well from three-point range and has the worst defensive efficiency in the conference. Even in their 101-piece last game, Louisville shot just 3/11 from distance and allowed 85+ points for the sixth time this year. SU’s defense has looked strong the majority of the season and needs to relax and capitalize on a golden bounce-back chance.

Mike: Get with the program

Coach Autry still has work to do to reestablish the Orange Standard, but he’s made it abundantly clear that he is done messing around with his current core. Between his postgame remarks in Winston-Salem and equally fired-up discussion about playing walk-ons if needed, it’s time for the sophomore class to show up as a complete unit. That means no hero ball, no selfish shots, and no playing down to the competition. Louisville should still be huge underdogs - don’t let them think otherwise.

Dom: Re-establish the defense

Back-to-back losses is always a tough pill to swallow, especially given how the BC and Wake Forest games turned out. Syracuse’s offensive struggles have been a notable concern recently, but the defense equally hasn’t played at a great level either. Louisville is scoring the third-fewest points per game in the ACC, and the home environment should inspire some confidence. Against an offense like this, playing Louisville gives the Orange an opportunity to reset the clock and show some bounce back after allowing Wake Forest to score 99 points.

Finn: Cuse Goes Small

Coming off a pair of losses, the Orange will have a chance to boost their confidence against ACC bottom-feeders Louisville. With the recent news of Benny William’s departure, I think Coach Autry will get the chance to experiment. I hope to see the Orange run out some small-ball lineups with Brown at the five, Mintz and Starling at guard and a rotation of Copeland, Bell, and Taylor in the other positions. With their chances of earning a bid to the NCAA tournament through the regular season bordering on zero percent, Autry could get creative in an attempt to succeed come ACC Tournament time.

Szuba: Board it up

The Syracuse defense has left much to be desired in its last two outings, but the Orange was also out-rebounded by double digits in each game. That’s a difficult rebounding deficit to overcome despite Syracuse winning in turnover margin. Now Syracuse will have to rebound — literally and figuratively — without Benny Williams, putting more pressure on the forward spots. How will Syracuse respond on the glass against Louisville, a team that’s bad in just about every category but rebounds at a moderate level. The Cards have a positive rebounding margin and rank tenth in the ACC, whereas Syracuse is dead last in rebounding margin at -2.41.


Now it’s your turn. What are you watching for tonight?