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Syracuse Basketball: Three takeaways from SU’s win over North Florida

That was…closer than it should have been.

NCAA Basketball: North Florida at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange used an explosive second half that slowed down for a segment to beat the North Florida Osprey, 77-71. In a game where Andrew White III took over, it seemed as if everyone was enjoying playing with one another more than ever. Tyus Battle’s insertion into the starting lineup gave the Orange a much needed boost of energy at the guard spot.

This game is just another win against a bad team, a win that wasn’t impressive to say the least, but the Orange may have figured something out here with Battle replacing Tyler Roberson.

The zone is quicker with Battle up top

The past two losses were in large part due to Syracuse’s inability to contain the top of the zone. Andrew White III isn’t athletic enough to take risks and recover, and because of that the Orange found themselves getting beat from the middle of the zone. That’s the last place you want the ball.

With Tyus Battle in the starting lineup, White was able to move to the bottom of the zone, allowing the athletic duo of Battle and Frank Howard to harass defenders up top. White can now play comfortably with Tyler Lydon and DaJuan Coleman down low, letting the legendary 2-3 zone reek havoc again.

Andrew White III is this team’s tone-setter

The Orange, especially Saturday, struggle to get going on offense in the first half. However, Andrew White III has made it his prerogative to make sure it doesn’t get too out of hand. His knock-down shot is seen early and often in the first half of games, and his performance of 15 first half points kept the Orange in command.

The shooters are there this year, everyone knows that. It’s just a matter of when the shooters will decide to show up. Lydon is gaining his confidence back, but his three-point shot is still as inconsistent as ever. The Orange are lucky to have White’s early success...maybe he wants to share his secret with the rest of the team too.

The Orange need to finish plays on defense

The defense looked as active as ever with Battle bringing his athletic prowess to the top of the zone. Bodies were flying as the Orange tried to contain the middle of the zone better than the prior two opponents—but that’s not enough.

The Orange need to learn how to box-out in order to compete with the top teams. They are getting the stops they need on defense but find themselves jumping for rebounds instead of finding their man and moving him out of the lane.

Getting beat on the defensive glass is not a characteristic any coach likes to see, so maybe it’s time for the Orange to finish the play before they worry about offense.