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Syracuse continued its freefall since entering Atlantic Coast Conference play with a close road loss to No. 3 Louisville. Although the last two losses didn’t feature a dismantled SU lineup getting overmatched by its opponents, the Orange are now just 1-5 in conference play. A road game against Virginia was postponed due to inclement weather, so Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome to face its fourth ranked opponent in the past five games.
Already suffering from their longest losing streak since 2008-09, the Orange face No. 18 Georgia Tech on Thursday, a team coming off a one-point loss that featured it scoring just 45 points. Syracuse can rebound from its recent skid with a win, and the last time the Orange faced the No. 18 team in the country at home, they upset Ohio State.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Yellow Jackets (13-4, 4-2 ACC) before their game against Syracuse (8-8, 1-5).
Syracuse leads 5-4.
Last time they played
Syracuse fell to GT last February on the road despite shooting 45.5% on three-pointers and over 50% from the field. The Yellow Jackets stormed out to an early lead, finishing the first quarter up 28-12, effectively handcuffing the Orange’s mid-game attempts to come back and extend a midseason winning streak to three. Syracuse sandwiched that loss in between four conference wins but gave up 17 points on as many turnovers.
SU also outscored the Yellow Jackets 46-32 in the paint, with 73% of the Orange’s points coming inside the paint. In the loss, Digna Strautmane, who now plays for Georgia Tech, notched her 1,000th career point with Syracuse.
The Yellow Jacket report
Georgia Tech’s last loss against Miami was out of character for a team that averages 61.4 points per game and has won games this season by an average of 15.1 points, according to Her Hoop Stats. Aside from a below-average percentage on free throws, the Yellow Jackets have established themselves as one of the top teams in the conference. Their most notable win came against then-No. 3 UConn in a game in which they held the Huskies to just 44 points.
GT is one of college basketball’s top defenses, holding opponents to just 46.3 points per game, the fewest points allowed by any team. But it can also shoot and score as well as Syracuse, with four starters averaging over 10 points per game and three players shooting over 40% from the field.
Acting head coach Vonn Read said that although Syracuse is one of the top scoring teams in the nation, Georgia Tech’s heavy reliance on forwards — of which they consistently play four at a time — is going to cause serious problems for a small SU lineup.
How Syracuse beats Georgia Tech
If SU executes the extra pass and shoots over the Yellow Jackets, it has a chance of pulling a curtain of three-pointers over an extremely tall, lockdown Georgia Tech defense. A similar performance to the most recent one against Louisville from deep would cause the GT forwards to peel out of their positions down low, allowing the Orange to free up passing lanes and open opportunities for dishes down inside to Christianna Carr or Alaysia Styles.
After a brief spell of poor shooting, Chrislyn Carr seems to be back to her regular self, and, supported by Read’s comments on her ability on Wednesday, she should be able to key Syracuse’s long range shooting. Opponents only shoot 26.3% from deep against Georgia Tech, however, but SU’s shifty trio of guards, coupled with Christianna’s opportunities from outside the arc could give the Orange greater success than past GT matchups.
Player to watch: Lorela Cubaj, forward, No. 13
The fifth-year forward is averaging a double-double and leads Georgia Tech with 12 rebounds per game, creating a menacing presence down low that has propelled her to be ranked seventh in the country in rebounds per game and fourth in total rebounds. The Yellow Jackets are 13th in defensive rebounding rate, according to Her Hoop Stats, meaning Cubaj can be deployed to stifle Syracuse’s possessions.
Cubaj is the latest big-man challenge for Syracuse, which allows 46.5% shooting from inside the arc and is typically outrebounded on both ends. Along with being named to the All-ACC Defensive Team last season, she was ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, and she will undoubtedly give the Orange headaches whenever they try to penetrate into the zone.
Stat to know: 68.3% assisted shot rate
Georgia Tech assists on nearly 70% of its made shots. Read said the Yellow Jackets do a good job of keeping the tempo at a high pace, and they have one of the lowest time per possessions in the country. This means GT will continue to move the ball in its forward-dominated lineup, further hindering Syracuse’s ability to settle into its 2-3 zone, especially if the recent turnover woes persist.
Cubaj has 75 assists on her own, but Strautmane and Sarah Bates also add help off the bench in the assists category. The Orange have had success in a few games this season breaking into passing lanes, especially when Alaina Rice establishes herself down low. However, a team that relies on its starting five to play at least 30 minutes could tire out and allow more of GT’s astute passing. The Yellow Jackets could quickly pull away if enough people get open or the passes inside start to really hurt Syracuse.
The post Opponent Preview: What to know about No. 18 Georgia Tech appeared first on The Daily Orange.