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Syracuse plays its final game of the regular season, where it’ll aim to avoid its first regular season below .500 in head coach Jim Boeheim’s 46-year tenure. The first matchup with Miami on Jan. 5 featured a blown 18-point lead on the road in what could’ve become Syracuse’s first — and only — Quadrant I win of the season. The Orange recorded a season-high 19 turnovers and allowed 58 points in the second half, falling 88-87 in Coral Gables.
Now, SU will face Miami for the second time this season. Here’s everything you need to know about the Hurricanes (21-9, 13-6 Atlantic Coast) before they play Syracuse for the second time this season:
Syracuse leads the all-time series 20-10.
Last time they played
Syracuse traveled to Miami on Jan. 5 to take on the Hurricanes. The Orange led by as many as 18 points in the first half. But during the second frame, Miami scored 58 points and capitalized on a season-high 19 SU turnovers. Cole Swider, Jesse Edwards and Joe Girard III all scored 20 points or more, but it wasn’t enough as the Hurricanes shot 36.7% from beyond the arc and won 88-87.
“If we didn’t have the turnovers, they would’ve scored 76 points or something and we would’ve won the game,” Boeheim said afterward. “But the turnovers were the difference in the game. Period.”
KenPom gives Syracuse a 54% chance of victory by a projected score of 80-79.
The Miami report
Miami has the 18th-best offense in the country, according to KenPom, though its production has slowed down as of late. The Hurricanes topped 80 points of offense in five of its first seven conference games, and all five of those ended in wins. The only contests where they didn’t were a 76-74 upset of Duke and a loss to Florida State. Since then, Miami has exceeded 80 points just twice when it beat Pittsburgh on Feb. 22 and Boston College on Wednesday.
The Hurricanes are led by Kameron McGusty and Isaiah Wong, the backcourt duo that rank fifth and 12th in the ACC in scoring, respectively. Charlie Moore ranks sixth in the conference in assists per game (4.2) and leads the ACC in steals per game (2.0).
Miami boasts a relatively balanced offense that ranks 67th in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage and 35th in 2-point shooting percentage, per KenPom. It knocked down 11 3-pointers when it played Syracuse the first time around but also managed 34 points in the paint.
Miami takes good care of the ball on offense, ranking seventh in the nation in turnover percentage, per KenPom. It’s the Hurricanes defense, which ranks 159th in adjusted defensive efficiency, that’ll pose the biggest issue.
How Syracuse beats the Hurricanes
Syracuse will need a win to avoid ending the regular season on a four-game losing streak. Miami ranks 11th in the nation in defensive steal percentage, per KenPom, and that’s something that caused SU problems in the first matchup, with Jordan Miller recording six steals and McGusty adding three. The Hurricanes finished with 14 as Syracuse failed to take care of the ball.
It was the turnovers — and more specifically, the steals — that cost Syracuse. The Orange need to take better care of the ball, and without Symir Torrence, they’ll have to lean on a good Girard game to do so. Girard has had turnover struggles this season despite being one of Syracuse’s top point-getters. He’s had issues handling the press, too. If Girard isn’t playing well at point guard, SU doesn’t really have a backup option to turn to off the bench. It’ll likely have to shuffle Buddy Boeheim or Swider to the backcourt.
Swider is coming off a monster 36-point outing in Chapel Hill, and he’ll need to get going once again if Syracuse wants to beat Miami. Like many other games this season, this will be a matchup between two strong offenses and mediocre defenses. Syracuse has been shooting very well as of late, despite its losses, and it’ll need to outpace Miami’s offense to get this victory.
Stat to know: 346th in bench production
Much like Syracuse, Miami ranks among the bottom teams in the country in bench production (20.8%), per KenPom. The Hurricanes actually played nine different players in the teams’ first matchup, with seven players exceeding 10 minutes. But their season stats reveal a significant drop-off after the five starters — Anthony Walker and Bensley Joseph are the only two players who get significant, regular minutes off the bench.
Syracuse played a difficult stretch of three games in six days, against Notre Dame, Duke and UNC, but it’ll get two more days of much-needed rest. That could potentially pay off against the Hurricanes’ thin rotation — Miami played BC on Wednesday and then Saturday at SU.
Player to watch: Charlie Moore, No. 3, Guard
Moore posted 25 points in the first Syracuse-Miami game on 6-of-10 shooting from deep. He’s shooting 38.8% from 3-point range this season, and he is bound to get some good looks against the Syracuse zone.
Syracuse’s focus could easily drift toward McGusty (17.4 points per game) or Wong (15.5 points per game), but that should open up scoring opportunities for Moore to capitalize against the Orange once more.
The post Opponent preview: Everything you need to know about Miami appeared first on The Daily Orange.