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Syracuse rebounded from its winless trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis with a 22-point win over Colgate. In the return to the Carrier Dome, the Orange, led by Chrislyn Carr’s 20 points, returned to their successful performance from deep. SU shot 39.1% from beyond the arc, including three made 3-pointers from Najé Murray and Christianna Carr.
But the Orange haven’t found success against higher-caliber teams yet this season. Acting head coach Vonn Read’s fast-paced style of play may tire out opponents like Colgate, but it has led to more turnovers than Read would like.
Now, Syracuse welcomes No. 18 Ohio State to the Dome, looking for the first win against a ranked opponent. The Buckeyes easily handled Cincinnati in their last game and jumped three spots in the AP poll on Monday. Ohio State is looking for its third straight winning season.
Before the Orange (3-4, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) take on the Buckeyes (5-0) on Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC challenge, here’s what you need to know about Ohio State.
Ohio State leads 10-1.
Last time they played
In 2016, Syracuse lost to Ohio State by five points in the eighth game of the Gulf Coast Showcase. Alexis Peterson led the Orange with 29 points behind a 5-for-10 shooting performance from deep. But SU hardly had any offensive help aside Peterson, and three starters for the Buckeyes finished with double digits in a team-wide 42.2% shooting game from the field.
Both teams were ranked at the time, and the Orange rallied back from a 15-point deficit in the second half but couldn’t pull off the upset against then-No. 8 Ohio State. Syracuse rode a 24-9 run with 8:50 left in the third quarter to storm back and tie the game with under two minutes remaining. SU finished off the season with seven losses to top-25 teams despite winning 22 games and earning an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Buckeyes report
Ohio State is arguably the best team Syracuse has played thus far, marking yet another early-season contest for a team continuing to work on chemistry and finding a set offensive rhythm. It has one of the best offenses in the country, averaging 89.4 points per game, which leads the country. Led by Jacy Sheldon, four Ohio State players are averaging double-digit points per game, and its 52.2% shooting from the field is second in the country.
The Buckeyes are also 10th in the country in defensive rebounding rate (78%) according to Her Hoop Stats. But much like the Orange, they don’t have much size, instead allowing guards to average nearly as many rebounds per game as their two main forwards down low. This comes despite the fact that the team is only 125th in total rebounds per game.
Ohio State also shares the ball more than most teams Syracuse has faced, averaging 15.8 assists per game. They also don’t turn the ball over. Head coach Kevin McGuff has been at the helm for the Buckeyes since 2013 and has utilized his experience to consistently coach an OSU team that threatens in Big Ten play. His team forces 22 turnovers per game.
How Syracuse beats Ohio State
Syracuse needs to hold on to the ball like it did in two of its last three games, when it had just eight turnovers. It’s likely Ohio State won’t make the same mistakes teams like Colgate and Minnesota did, so it won’t get as many gives leading to transition points as it has in previous games. But just because a team scores doesn’t mean SU can’t match it by shooting the lights out of the Dome from deep itself. Syracuse has scored at least 70 points in four of its first seven games and showcased how potent its long-range shooting can be against Colgate.
Keeping the pressure on a team that has been together much longer than the Orange could lead to shutting down play in the paint. Eboni Walker is “day-to-day” according to Read, placing the center duties in the hands of Alaysia Styles and Christianna, neither of whom are used to playing down low. But Read also said after Syracuse’s win over Morgan State that the team is full of “rebounding guards,” which could overtake the Buckeyes down low, maximizing the number of possessions Syracuse needs to keep up with OSU.
Player to watch: Rebeka Mikulášiková, forward, No. 23
You can plug and place each opponent’s biggest, most impactful forward and make them the most impactful in each game for SU, especially with a shortened bench. But Mikulášiková has had a dominant start to her junior season. She’s averaging 14.8 points and four rebounds per game and, helped along by a flurry of close-range shots, is shooting 64.6% from the field. Last year was a statistical setback for the 6-foot-4 center for the Buckeyes, but she’s seemingly back on track.
She is tied for third on the team with eight turnovers, and she’s only grabbed three rebounds on the offensive side. While her numbers show she has a definite path to dominate Syracuse underneath the basket with her size and performance to begin the season, there’s room for SU to poke holes in her game.
Stat to know: 22
According to Her Hoop Stats, OSU opponents average 22 turnovers against the Buckeyes. This could quickly become a problem for the Orange, who average 15.9 per game. Read has harped on the team after nearly every game when looking at its number of turnovers, saying that Syracuse needed to cut down on the number of times it gave up the ball against better teams.
Against Colgate and Minnesota — two of the statistically worst teams Syracuse has faced this season — SU only turned over the ball eight times. But the team has recorded 19 or more turnovers four times, including against nonconference opponents Morgan State and Monmouth. If Ohio State forces anywhere near 22 turnovers against Syracuse, the Orange are going to have a difficult time staying with the No. 18 team in the country.
The post Opponent Preview: Everything to know about No. 18 Ohio State appeared first on The Daily Orange.