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The Three Keys to Sweeping NC State

Photo Courtesy of Syracuse Athletics

The Syracuse Men’s Basketball Team is in a difficult spot following a disappointing loss to Clemson on Saturday. The Orange failed yet again to capture its first Quad 1 win. It doesn’t look like Syracuse will be playing come mid-march, but there’s still a chance (however slim that may be). Above all else, what SU needs to do is start winning again and it starts tonight against a talented NC State squad. So how can Syracuse beat the Wolfpack for the second time in 10 days? Let’s get into it.

  1. Take Care of The Basketball

In the first matchup, SU did an adequate job possessing the rock. The Orange turned it over 10 times in the first meeting which isn’t spectacular, but against NC State that will get the job done. Kevin Keatts’ team is 8-1 when forcing at least 15 turnovers. When the Pack doesn’t, it is 0-6, with one of the losses coming to the Orange in last Sunday’s 76-73 decision.

Additionally, NC State is at its best when it’s converting turnovers into fast break opportunities. The Wolfpack are 7-0 when it scores 19 points or more off of giveaways. When that doesn’t happen, NC State is 1-7. In the first meeting the Orange allowed only 12.

2. Neutralize Manny Bates

Bates leads the ACC in blocks per game with just under 3. Last year he became the second NC State player since 1977 to lead the conference in swats with 83, but he didn’t record a single rejection in his last two outings against Virginia and Boston College. That’s just the second and third time that’s ever happened in the sophomore’s career.

How do you neutralize Bates? Stretch the floor! In the first matchup, SU shot 8-21 from beyond the arc. That’s about 38%, which isn’t terrible, but Quincy Guerrier took just one attempt from downtown, and he missed. Guerrier has added the deep shot to his offensive arsenal hitting 12 of 40 attempts (30%), but hasn’t connected from from the perimeter in each of SU’s last three games.

The Candyman is second in the ACC in double-doubles (7), so Bates will assuredly be tasked with slowing him down. If the Canadien can be a threat from deep (at all) it can move the rim protector in Bates out of the paint and create opportunities for Marek Dolezaj and potentially Kadary Richmond to do some damage in the key.

3. Shut Down Braxton Beverly

It was a tale of two halves in the first meeting. In the first 20 minutes, Syracuse implemented some adjustments to the zone, and quite frankly they just didn’t work. It was as if SU had no idea who NC State’s Braxton Beverly was. The senior is 5th in NC State program history for career three-pointers made and it certainly looked like it in the first period. The Pack made six three-pointers in the first half, three of which belonged to Beverly.

In the second half, SU scrapped those adjustments and started pushing out towards the perimeter and keying in on NC State’s sniper. The Orange closed out better on shots, and made better efforts to alter Beverly’s shots. As a result, the Wolfpack didn’t connect on a single shot from deep, including Beverly.

If the Orange can accomplish all three of those, they’ll earn their 11th win of the season. If not, it could be a long night in PNC Arena. NC State will get theirs in the paint (like everyone else SU plays). They’ve made a more concerted effort to score in the key, averaging 37.3 points in the last three games. Additionally, D.J. Funderburk will be back for the Pack after missing the first matchup, as will Bourama Sidibe. The template has been set though: take care of the basketball, move Bates away from the rim, and lock down Braxton Beverly.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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