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Syracuse vs. Duke preview: Three things to watch

This is it. If the Orange can pull this one off then maybe they can dig themselves out of a hole that looks deep enough to call it quits.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgia Tech
Andrew White III needs to start a new 20 point streak for the Orange to pull this one out.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

It comes down to this.

After their loss on the road against Georgia Tech, the Syracuse Orange find themselves in need of as many notable wins as they can get. Currently, Duke is among the hottest teams in the nation. They’re on a seven game-winning streak, and if Syracuse can bring that to an end, their NCAA chances go up exponentially.

The Orange’s last loss dug themselves a hole, but if they can pull off their third top-10 win of the season, maybe the Comeback ‘Cuse could still be alive. Duke comes in with as talented a team as SU has seen yet, as they boast a versatile lineup that can attack the Orange from above and below the rim.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgia Tech
Can Tyler Lydon respond from his last disappearance?
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Where are the Syracuse stars?

Andrew White III’s seven-game streak of at least 20 points ended in their most recent loss to Georgia Tech, but his play was one of the few reasons why the Orange had a chance late in regulation. Tyler Lydon and John Gillon went missing in the offense, as they combined for 14 points on 5-of-21 shooting from the field.

The Orange will have no shot against the No. 10 team in the country if two of their top three scorers go missing again. SU’s offense looked stagnant throughout their latest loss. To beat Duke, the ball needs to be moving at all times in order to find the Orange’s open sharpshooters on the perimeter.

Who will the Orange focus on slowing down?

Stop Luke Kennard? What about Jayson Tatum? How about Grayson Allen? You forgot Amile Jefferson? The list doesn’t stop there as the Blue Devils have a roster that can throw role players at you who are capable of scoring 15-20 points of their own.

This team is as versatile, as it can shoot the lights out and also take it to the rim. Coach Mike Krzyzewski knows the zone, and will have a plan ready to dissect the Orange defense.

Team defense has been a struggle for Syracuse this season, but if there’s one game the Orange would choose to lock down for it would be this one — their most crucial yet in terms of postseason chances.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgia Tech
Can John Gillon create a little more Orange magic one more time?
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Will the three ball return?

The Orange are shooting 22-of-84 from beyond the arc in their current three-game losing streak — a stat no team would like to see when they are trying to finish their season off on the right note. That’s a far cry from Syracuse’s 38-percent perimeter shooting on the season. Hopefully this is the game where SU starts turning the tide back to positive.

It is tough, to say the least, to beat Duke right now due to their amazing recent play. If the Orange’s recent trends from distance stay the same then Syracuse will see that losing streak climb even more.