Syracuse Basketball: Orange needs to push Cornell behind the 3-point line

The Syracuse basketball squad has dominated Cornell for decades, and the Orange will try to extend its might on Wednesday evening.

The Syracuse basketball team, featuring head coach Jim Boeheim and sophomore guard Buddy Boeheim, will clash on Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome with Cornell, whose roster includes junior forward Jimmy Boeheim, the Big Red’s leading scorer to date in the young 2019-20 campaign, at 15.3 points an affair.

The annual Boeheim-family encounter is, of course, a fun event, and naturally, emotions run high when father and son go up against Dad’s other son. But once this bout tips off, the Orange (2-1, 0-1) and Cornell (1-3) will put those familial feelings to the side and focus on 40 minutes of hoops action.

The Big Red, whose Ithaca, N.Y., campus is roughly 53 miles from the Hill, has never defeated the ‘Cuse in the Dome, and Syracuse has captured 39-consecutive conquests versus Cornell reaching back to the late 1960s.

All-time, the Orange owns a 93-31 edge over the Big Red, although about a year ago, Cornell drove a scare into the ‘Cuse, before Syracuse escaped with a 63-55 triumph.

At this juncture in 2019-20, neither the Orange or the Big Red is especially prolific on offense, with the ‘Cuse getting 64.3 points per contest, and Cornell averaging 69.3 points. Syracuse fares better on defense, allowing 56.3 points as compared to 70.0 points for the Big Red.

Field-goal percentage, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and turnovers committed are relatively similar for this pair of programs. Two extremely important departments, in my humble opinion, are shooting from downtown, and from the charity stripe.

While the Orange has a variety of threats from long-range, Cornell only hits on approximately 29 percent from beyond the arc, and it’s imperative that the ‘Cuse 2-3 zone bait the Big Red into hoisting up difficult looks from 3-point land. Should Cornell catch fire from deep, Syracuse could find itself in trouble.

One area where the Big Red has a sizable advantage is at the free-throw line, connecting on 72.9 percent, versus a disappointing 61.8 percent for the Orange. The ‘Cuse cannot afford to pick up ill-advised fouls against Cornell and enable its foe to secure easy points from the charity stripe.

Besides Jimmy Boeheim, Syracuse must pay particular attention to junior guard Terrance McBride, who tallies 14.5 points a game, and senior forward Josh Warren, who nets 10.5 points.

As far as the Orange roster, new starting point guard Joe Girard III had a monster showing in his most-recent battle versus Seattle over the weekend, but he’s a freshman, and it’s unfair to assume that he’ll always generate that sort of output. The key for the ‘Cuse is to repeat its scoring balance from the Redhawks’ result on Nov. 16, as five guys notched double-figures in points, and the Syracuse wings did an admirable job of attacking the lane with precision.

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Harmony inside and outside of the paint brings about more fluidity, movement, and spacing on offense, and good things happen. The Big Red is a quality opponent, but if the Orange remains true to this identity, the ‘Cuse should prevail.

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