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Through its first road trip of the season, Syracuse dropped two important Atlantic Coast Conference games in blowout losses. This comes after a successful month in December where the Orange established a six-game win streak. But a tough ACC schedule lies ahead and SU faces another ranked opponent in No. 17 Duke at the Carrier Dome.
The Orange struggled during their road trip, allowing 50 points in the paint to both then-No. 24 North Carolina and Boston College. And against Duke, those struggles inside will likely continue, as an under-sized Syracuse is set to face its tallest opponent yet.
Here is everything you need to know before Syracuse (8-6, 1-3 ACC) hosts No. 17 Duke (10-2, 1-1 ACC).
Duke leads 6-3.
Last time they played
The two teams last played in January 2020 as Duke handed Syracuse what would be its biggest loss of the season. Led by then-senior and current WNBA player Leaonna Odom’s double-double in points (23) and rebounds (10), the Orange lost 88-58, falling to 3-4 in ACC play.
Despite three Syracuse players reaching double-digits in points, overall it made less than a third of its shots from the field and went 5-of-30 from deep. The Orange conceded their second-most turnovers of the season (22) and recorded just one steal against a Duke side that made nearly 50% of its shots. The Blue Devils had a 28-point second quarter where they missed just six field goals.
The Blue Devils report
Duke began the season on an eight-game winning streak but have since dropped two of its last four games. The first of those defeats came against No. 1 South Carolina by just nine points. But surprisingly, the Blue Devils suffered a 22-point loss to an unranked Virginia Tech side.
After having its Jan. 6 game postponed against Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils face Syracuse on a week’s rest after a 2-point victory over a ranked Notre Dame side. Elizabeth Balogun led Duke with 27 points, and she is one of the four Duke players with at least 20 field goal attempts shooting 50% or better.
The Blue Devils, like Syracuse, boast an experienced, transfer-heavy roster with just three underclassmen. Among that trio, freshman Shayeann Day-Wilson leads Duke with a 45.6% 3-point field goal percentage and sophomore Vanessa de Jesus has started every game thus far.
How Syracuse beats Duke
On Thursday, Syracuse was exposed in the paint against Boston College, allowing 50 points inside for the second game in a row. Now, the Orange will face a much taller team in Duke who ranks 28th in the country in 2-point percentage at 51.5%, per Her Hoop Stats. SU has also been outrebounded by a margin of over 15 in its last two conference games, including a 63-37 performance by North Carolina along the boards.
Against a Duke team, which has recorded a 77th-best 509 total rebounds, per Her Hoop Stats, Syracuse needs to trust its 3-point shooting, an area where it thrived during December. It made nearly 40 percent of its 3s against then-No.18 Ohio State and erupted for a 46.4% success rate from deep against Clemson for its only ACC win thus far.
Led by Chrislyn Carr, who has made just over 40 percent of her 3s, Syracuse is more than capable of competing with Duke if it can rely on 3-pointers. Four of the Orange’s starters have made over a third of their 3s, compared to only two Blue Devils’ starters.
Player to watch: Amaya Finklea-Guity, center, No. 22
Amaya Finklea-Guity was Syracuse’s starting center from 2017-20, making 96 starts, before losing her starting spot to then-freshman Priscilla Williams last season. The graduate student was one of four 5-star recruits to transfer to Duke during the offseason and is the team’s only true center.
Finklea-Guity has appeared in all but one game for the Blue Devils this season and is their leader from the field having made 68% of her shots off the bench. She made 4-of-5 field goals in Duke’s 8-point win over Appalachian State scoring 11 points and recorded a season-high five rebounds in just 18 minutes.
At 6-foot-4, Finklea-Guity is Duke’s tallest option off the bench — its second tallest center behind 6-foot-5 starter Jade Williams. In her junior season at Syracuse, she led all starters with a 52.1% field goal percentage, all coming from mid-to-close range.
Stat to know: 39% offensive rebounding rate
Duke has secured nearly a third of its offensive rebounds this season and faces a Syracuse team that has one of the worst defensive rebounding rates nationally. The Orange’s loss at Boston College was their second consecutive game where their opponent’s defensive rebounding total surpassed that of their total rebounds. It was the fourth time this season where SU has recorded fewer than 20 defensive rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils will be Syracuse’s tallest opponent thus far, with nine players standing at 5-foot-11 or taller. Williams, the Blue Devils’ 6-foot-5 starting center, leads the team with 34 offensive rebounds, and Celeste Taylor leads in total rebounds with 76. Syracuse’s Alaysia Styles and Teisha Hyman each lead the team with 83 rebounds, but the Orange still haven’t managed to record more than 50 rebounds in a game. Duke has comfortably reached that mark three times, including a season-high 64 boards against Charleston Southern.
The post Opponent Preview: Everything to know about No. 17 Duke, SU’s 5th ACC game appeared first on The Daily Orange.