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Syracuse vs. Florida State preview: Four things to watch

Can the Orange really pull this thing off?

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

Coming off arguably the most exciting game of the season, the Syracuse Orange are looking to shock the nation and pull off a much-needed win for their resume. Even though they are coming off of a shocking loss to Georgia Tech, Florida State is coming in with a lineup that is as daunting as any the Orange have seen this season.

Wednesday’s win over Wake Forest gave the Orange their first close finish in ACC play this year. If they’re going to pull off a win Saturday afternoon, it would stand to reason they’ll need another terrifying bit of late heroics.

Will SU’s point guards show up?

The Orange are looking for consistent play from their two point guards, but so far they have been shaky throughout. John Gillon has been the starting point guard for more than a few games now, and a below-average showing like he had against Wake Forest won’t work this time.

Gillon, however, did made clutch plays down the stretch as his drive started the game winning shot for Andrew White III. If Gillon and Frank Howard can produce and make the Seminoles’ defense think twice about committing to their shooters, then maybe SU has a chance.

Is there any way to stop FSU’s dynamic duo?

Syracuse hasn’t seen anything like this yet. Sure, North Carolina is a national title contending team, but Florida State has a tandem that is incredibly difficult to slow down (unless you’re Georgia Tech, it seems) in Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac. The two underclassman are averaging a combined 30 points per game, while also converting from the line at a high rate.

The Orange need to have their eyes glued at all times to these two ‘Noles throughout the afternoon. Wake’s John Collins made his presence known in SU’s last game, splitting through the zone with reasonable ease. If both Bacon can do the same and Isaac can clean up the boards on Saturday, FSU’s offense could run roughshod over Syracuse.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Syracuse
Is this Tyler Lydon’s shining moment?
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Orange’s stars shine in a big moment?

The win against Wake Forest was back and forth until the clock hit zero, and fortunately the two stars in Orange, Tyler Lydon and Andrew White III, came through when it mattered most. White led the game in scoring with 27 while Lydon played one of his most complete performances in his two-year career at Syracuse.

These two need to play this way on Saturday for Syracuse’s March dreams to become any sort of reality. They’ll of course need help from other players on the roster. But stars show up in big games, and both (especially White) have shown some clutch abilities in the past.

How will the freshmen respond?

Two of the players that will need to help Lydon and White are freshmen Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson. Thompson starred against Wake Forest, finishing with 18 points and hitting two clutch free throws. Battle struggled offensively, but his defensive presence made his impact on the floor a positive one.

This is arguably the biggest game these two have been in since they picked up a basketball, and quality performances from both players would go a long way for SU. Battle needs to be aggressive from the start and Thompson needs to play smart defense (to the best of his abilities) while also finishing his looks around the rim.

SU may be able to knock off Wake with two or three players logging quality games. In order to upset Florida State, however, this will really need to be a team effort for the Orange. Thompson proved his worth a few days ago. Can Battle join him in doing so this Saturday?