Finally, a true test.
The Syracuse Orange have had it easy through the first four games, but Saturday’s matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks is sure to be a challenging one. South Carolina also enters the contest undefeated and is coming off of an impressive victory against no. 25 Michigan. The Orange are the more talented team without question, but how will they handle their first game in a new environment? A win is expected, and a win must be had for the Orange to be who we think they are.
1. How will the Orange handle Sindarius Thornwell?
Thornwell, a senior guard for the Gamecocks, is having a breakout year so far, averaging just under 21 points per game while also tallying over seven rebounds per game. He led the way for South Carolina against the Wolverines, recording his first double double of the season. For the Orange to win Saturday afternoon, they’re going to need to make sure the 6-foot-5 guard doesn’t have a field day.
2. Can Tyler Lydon play well in back-to-back games?
Lydon has yet to put together two quality performances in a row this season, but after his first double double of the year vs. South Carolina State, the Orange are asking Lydon to maintain this success for a while. Despite Andrew White III’s early success, the Orange will go as far as Lydon takes them, and so far he hasn’t been a dominant force.
Lydon finally got his stroke going last Tuesday night, and with a talented roster around him, shots are only going to be easier as the season goes on. Once defenses realize they can’t key in on Lydon due to the shooting depth of this roster, he’ll be able to get open shots more often, leading to an easier game style. This is your chance Tyler; it’s time to put the past behind you and only look forward.
3. Will the shooters stay hot?
The Orange shot just over 54-percent from three in their dominating victory last Tuesday night; a stat even an NBA team would be exceptionally proud of. Everyone from the starters to the bench were hitting their shots early and often, and it was a beautiful thing to watch. When this team gets hot there is no stopping them, it’s just a matter of how hot they want to get.
South Carolina is holding their opponents to 58 points per game, which the Orange hope to change. The Orange are averaging just over 83 points per game, and after Tuesday night’s 101-point explosion, the Orange look as ready as ever to face this surprisingly hot Gamecocks team.
4. When will Tyus Battle have an explosion?
Tyus Battle dominated preseason play, scoring at will and looking like he’s played college basketball before. Battle has not looked bad in regular season play, but he just hasn’t dominated like he did in the preseason. Having a roster this talented is sure to hide Battle’s dominance, but it’s time for the freshman to show the country who he is.
There isn’t a better stage than the Barclays Center for Battle to have an offensive outbreak, so why not make it your afternoon on Saturday, Tyus?
5. How close can this game really be?
No one expected the Gamecocks to be a top team this season, but after their win over Michigan and an undefeated start, the Gamecocks seem prime for success this year. The Orange haven’t had a true competitor so far this year, but the team has shown dominance against their weaker performances so far.
South Carolina is going to put up a fight for sure, but with a roster this talented and deep, the Orange will prevail when the buzzer sounds.