Miami vs. Syracuse Game Preview (via @HardwoodU)
Miami (1-0 ACC) and Syracuse (0-1 ACC) meet tonight having experienced radically different seasons following the Thanksgiving Break. Syracuse lost a neutral game against South Carolina, and followed it up by going 5-5 entering tonight’s game. Meanwhile, after Miami lost a neutral game against Florida, they bounced back with a 7-game win streak.
Let’s hope that the arctic tundra of Syracuse, NY (25 degrees tonight) is not enough to cool off this hot streak for the Canes, as they travel to the Carrier Dome to take on the Orange tonight (1/4) at 7:00pm. Here’s what to watch for:
The Syracuse Orange (RPI 211) come into Thursday night’s matchup at 8-6, which is a disappointing start for a Boeheim-coached team to say the least. Their only major win of the season was a 71-50 win over Monmouth. Losing to ranked South Carolina and Wisconsin teams is understandable, but following that up with losses to former Big East foes UConn, Georgetown, and St. John’s (by 33 points) is inexcusable. This past weekend, Syracuse opened up ACC play with a 15 point loss to Boston College, the perennial bottom-dweller of the conference, who many predicted to go winless in ACC play.
The Orange have struggled mightily this season against solid basketball opponents, going 2-4 against teams with a RPI of under 150. Former Nebraska and Kansas transfer Andrew White III leads the team in scoring in his senior year, averaging 15.3 PPG. Sophomore forward Tyler Lydon has been the lone bright spot of this team, increasing his scoring to 13.1 PPG this season to go along with 8 RPG. He is on a 3 game double-double streak entering tonight’s game, and is looking to expose Miami’s inside defense to continue the streak.
The rest of the starting cast for the Orange include freshman forward Taurean Thompson (9.4 PPG), freshman guard Tyus Battle (8.4 PPG), and sophomore guard Frank Howard (6.8 PPG, 6 APG, 2 SPG). Colorado State graduate transfer John Gillon also plays a pivotal role as 6th man on this team, averaging 8.9 PPG and 4.2 APG
What to Watch For
The Carrier Dome is never an easy venue to walk away with a road victory. The Canes enter tonight as slight favorites (-2.5). Last week’s game against NC State is arguably the best 40 minutes of fundamental basketball played by the Hurricanes this season, as they forced 15 turnovers from the Wolfpack while limiting themselves to only 8.
Senior leadership is key if Miami wants to make a run in the ACC. Ja’Quan Newton continues to light it up on offense, averaging 15.8 PPG following back-to-back 20+ point games over Columbia and NC State. Davon Reed has also heated up as of late, hitting at least three 3-pointers and tallying 15+ points in his last 5 games. Additionally, now that conference play has started, it’s time for the freshmen to start making their mark. Dewan Huell put up a disappointing scoreless performance on Saturday, but Bruce Brown filled the stat sheet as usual with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
Tale of Two Teams
Miami’s only two losses of the year have come against team with an RPI under 100 (2 Florida & 73 Iowa State). If Miami follows up their performance from the weekend, continuing to limit turnovers while forcing opposing guards to put up low percentage shots, Jim Larrañaga will head back to the Sunshine State with back-to-back Carrier Dome wins, and a 2-0 ACC record.
How to Watch
When: Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 7:00pm
Where: Carrier Dome
TV: Fox Sports and ACC Digital Network. Click here for regional TV info.
Stream: WatchESPN.com (blacked out in some areas)