Can the Orange remain perfect in ACC play?
The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team got ACC play off to a hot start with a win against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and now they’ll look to make it two straight conference wins in their showdown with the Clemson Tigers Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome.
The Tigers come into this one with the same overall record as the Orange (10-4), but they are coming off of a loss against the No. 1-ranked Duke Blue Devils to open up ACC play. No games will be easy in conference play this year, so let’s see what the Orange need to do in order to maintain their perfect conference record.
Can the Orange keep Elijah Hughes hot?
Perimeter shooting has hurt the Orange for the last few years (including most of this season), but their one “marksman” got hot against the Fighting Irish, which helped Syracuse pull out the road win: Elijah Hughes. Hughes’ ability to space the floor opens up easy driving lanes for Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett, something Syracuse needs against the top ACC defenses.
Hughes has been inconsistent shooting the long ball this year, but he’s starting to find his rhythm again, making at least three threes in Syracuse’s last three games. Hughes has the ability to take over a game from the perimeter, as seen with his six threes last Saturday, so let’s see if the Orange can find a way to use Hughes’ perimeter game to their advantage early and often in this one.
The rebounding battle
Syracuse’s centers struggle to dominate the glass, but the Orange are lucky enough to have two forwards in Brissett and Hughes who are able to rebound well for their position/size. Both players finished with double digit rebounds against the fighting Irish, as Marek Dolezaj, Bourama Sidibe, and Paschal Chukwu combined for just 15 rebounds. The Tigers are led by Elijah Thomas on the boards, a 6-foot-9 forward who averages 7.4 rebounds per game. Containing Thomas and the rest of the Tigers on the glass will help the Orange be able to get some easy opportunities in transition.
The Orange have had a tendency to get in foul trouble, and it showed again against the Fighting Irish. Dolezaj and Chukwu folded out in the second half, leaving Sidibe to play the remainder of the game. The Orange need to make sure they’re able to defend the Tigers without fouling if they want to have their best five on the floor when it matters most.
Slowing down Marcquise Reed
Syracuse beat Clemson last year in the Carrier Dome when the Tigers were ranked 20th in the nation. But they had a tough time slowing down Marcquise Reed who led the game in scoring with 21 points. Reed is back to his scoring ways this year, as he’s averaging a career high 19.6 points per game, which leads the Tigers in scoring this season. Reed can score from the perimeter and inside the lane, so watch for Syracuse’s top of the zone to be focused on number two for the Tigers once he crosses half court.
Tyus Battle’s efficiency
Battle is having his most efficient season of his career, as his field goal percentage is up to 48 percent on the year. The added weapons by his side has helped take some of the load off of him this year, especially Hughes and his perimeter shooting. Battle had a solid start to his ACC play this season with 17 points on 8-17 shooting, so look for Syracuse’s leading scorer to try and pick apart the Clemson defense with some strategic mid-range shots.