The Jackets take on Syracuse in their second game of conference play, looking to keep the momentum going from the previous game against Nebraska. Before the game, we sat down with Kevin Wall from Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician to get his insight on what he expects when the Huskers and Jackets battle in Atlanta.
FTRS: The first matchup between these teams was an absolute blowout in which Syracuse shot over 50% from the field and made 14 three pointers. Was that game an anomaly or have the Orange had similar offensive performances this season?
The only other game where Syracuse did that was against Bucknell . Lately teams have focused on closing out on Syracuse’s three-point shooters and the Orange have been a lot more effective inside the paint than from deep. Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard are all capable of getting hot again but I don’t know if we’ll see them duplicate the shooting from the first game.
FTRS: As of now Syracuse appears to be sitting on the outside looking in for an NCAA tournament berth. What do they need to do down the stretch to make the field of 68?
Syracuse lacks a true signature win so they first need to win these remaining five games and then they will need to make a run in Greensboro. The Orange really need to get a win over Duke, Louisville or Florida State to get back in the NCAA conversation.
FTRS: Syracuse ranks 139th in the country in defensive efficiency, which is not terrible, but certainly uncharacteristic for this program. What has been the root cause of the defensive struggles?
Is everything an answer? The backcourt of Girard and Boeheim aren’t very athletic and have struggled keeping the ball from getting into the high post. Once that happens Syracuse is struggling to protect the baseline and close out on three-point shooters. Even when teams are missing, they’ve often been able to crash the offensive boards well enough to get the Syracuse centers in foul trouble. It’s been the worst Syracuse defensive team in a long time.
FTRS: Elijah Hughes is the go to guy for this Syracuse team, but who else does Tech need to watch out for?
Elijah Hughes hasn’t been shooting as well from outside but his strength comes from his ability to put the ball on the floor and get into the lane. He sometimes settles for deep jumpers too often but he’s really improved his passing so that if teams send a second defender he’ll look to find Boeheim or Girard for open shots. Hughes is at his best in transition so Georgia Tech should be careful of letting him out in the open floor too often.
FTRS: Jose Alvarado has a signature air guitar celebration that he pulls out after hitting a big shot. Do any Syracuse players have a go to move like this?
Hughes also uses the air guitar celebration but the unique one comes when Quincy Guerrier shoots free throws. Syracuse often pulls their players from the lane so if Guerrier has two shots, he still steps forwards and “slaps hands” with the invisible teammates between shots. It looks weird but Guerrier says he doesn’t want to change his routine.
FTRS: Who wins and by what margin?
I’m going to be a homer and pick Syracuse but I think it’s going to be a close win say 71-68. I think Alvarado is going to be a problem for the Orange on both ends but Hughes is due for a strong shooting game and he makes the difference.
Many thanks to Kevin for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure to check out some Syracuse coverage over at Nunes Magician.