The Syracuse Orange finally snapped a four game skid when they took down the Pittsburgh Panthers last Tuesday, but there is still more work to be done. The Orange are now 2-4 in the ACC and take on Boston College (3-4) and have a rematch with Pitt (0-7) this week. If the Orange win both of these games and some other ACC results go their way, they can potentially move from the basement of the ACC to the middle of the pack.
Boston College has been the surprise team in ACC this season, taking down Duke and Florida State and hanging tough with Virginia, Clemson and Louisville. Usually an ACC team such as Syracuse looks at BC on the schedule and feels confident, but this year things are different and the Orange will have to bring their A game against the Eagles.
The Orange defense has been a bright spot for Jim Boeheim an Co. this season holding opponents to 63.6 points per game on the year, but the achilles heel of the zone is the three point shot and Boston College has capable shooters from outside. Both Jerome Robinson (46.4%) and Jordan Chatman (45.1%) are shooting lights out from deep and Ky Bowman (33.6%) is no slouch from deep either. Orange fans will remember the names Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson from last year when the duo combined for 55 points on 10-12 from three point range to defeat the Orange 96-81in the ACC opener. Gone from that BC team a year ago is AJ Turner, who added 16 points, but Jordan Chatman has stepped up to be a stellar replacement in Turner’s absence. When the trio of Bowman, Robinson and Turner got hot last year, the Orange could do nothing to stop them and this year if they allow Bowman, Robinson and Chatman to get hot from three point range the Orange can expect a similar fate. The Orange defense will have to contain this trio if they hope to come away victorious in this matchup.
On the offensive end Syracuse is still struggling, as it seems as if whenever Tyus Battle struggles the whole team’s offense struggles. Battle leads the team in scoring with 19.8 points per game, which is nearly 30% of Syracuse’s 70 points that they average per game. When Battle struggles to get going the whole team is at a disadvantage. Frank Howard (15.6 points per game) and Oshae Brissett (14.9 points per game) do a good job in supporting Battle, but ultimately Tyus needs to score for the Orange offense to have a real chance in their games. If Battle can keep up his high-caliber play and the 2-3 zone holds up then Syracuse can pull of the much needed win and move up in the ACC standings.
The Pittsburgh Panthers are struggling this year and that’s putting it nicely. They currently sit at 0-7 in the ACC and occupy last place in the conference. With that being said though, Pittsburgh always gives the Orange fits especially at the Petersen Events Center. In fact, the Orange have lost four of the last five played in Pittsburgh and the one victory came thanks to a miracle shot by Tyler Ennis at the buzzer. So while the Orange have the advantage in this one, this will for sure be a tough matchup for the Orange.
The Orange and the Panthers just faced off last week and the Orange came away with the 59-45 win, but it was a sloppy win. The Orange struggled offensively scoring their second least amount of points all season and shooting a lowly 27.8% from deep. Luckily for Syracuse, Pittsburgh shot even worse only shooting 35% from the field and turning the ball over 18 times. The Syracuse defense is definitely what won that game for the Orange and that is what they will need when they head to Pittsburgh later this week. The Orange defense stole the ball 10 times and allowed their second least amount of points scored, so the offensive woes were wiped away by great defense.
Offensively Frank Howard was the hero last time out scoring a game-high 18 points, but if the Orange plan on winning again they are going to need everyone to show up. Battle chipped in 15 and Brissett had 10, but the Orange will need more than that. The Orange offense has been stagnant all season and it gets even worse when the three point shot isn’t falling and that was the problem last week. The Orange could not get the long range shot to fall and the offense struggled because of it. I wouldn’t count on Syracuse shooting that poorly from deep again, so the Orange should be able to take this game in a hostile environment.
If the Orange manage to come away with two big victories they will get to .500 in the ACC and take a nice leap in the standings as they head into the meat of their ACC schedule. Syracuse will face the Eagles of Boston College on Wednesday January 24th at 7:00 PM and they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday January 27th at 4:00 PM.