With Christmas right around the corner, it is time for Santa to start checking his list. Syracuse has been naughty against the Power Five (0-4) and nice against the rest of its competition (7-0).
Unluckily for the Orange, another Power Five opponent is on the horizon as SU faces its third longtime Big East rival of the season with St. Johns coming to the Dome tonight. Luckily for Syracuse, this is the easiest of the three, albeit none of them should have been tough. The Johnnies come into Central New York with a 5-7 record, the worst in the Big East (even behind DePaul!) That being said, there are a couple things the Orange need to do tonight in order to carry its momentum off of its latest win into ACC play.
Show No Mercy
Syracuse’s play has been embarrassing in its losses. But in wins, the Orange’s average margin of victory is 30. SU needs to show it can do that against elite athletes, not just lower level competition. This is the perfect matchup for Syracuse to do just that.
Good things happen when the Orange shoots a high volume of threes. Syracuse has shot 40 percent or better from behind the arc in more than half of its games this season, five of which have come when SU attempts at least 24 deep balls. The Orange needs to attack from three early and often and that lies heavily on the guards, especially Andrew White III. The Nebraska grad transfer shoots nearly nine threes per game and is tied for 11th in the country in triples made per contest. Outside of White, John Gillon and Tyus Battle are having strong shooting seasons (both above 45 percent from deep) and the Orange needs that production to continue going into conference play.
Syracuse could be without one of its starters due to injury, which is something it has not had to deal with since Chris McCullough tore his ACL. Tyler Lydon is a gametime decision with a strained achilles. If the sophomore cannot play, Tyler Roberson likely makes his return to the starting lineup to give the Orange some size. Regardless, Lydon is not 100 percent and Syracuse needs to compensate for that. This is an important game for Roberson to try to get off Jim Boeheim’s naughty list because as Roberson goes, so does the Orange.