The Syracuse basketball squad is set to embark on a challenging five-contest stretch that could define its 2019-20 campaign, with Oklahoma State up first.
The Syracuse basketball team put forth its finest showing of the 2019-20 stanza when it absolutely crushed Bucknell this past Saturday afternoon inside the Carrier Dome.
The Orange (4-1) shot lights out from the field as a whole, and particularly from long range, while also displaying a suffocating 2-3 zone in blasting the Bison by 51 points.
Now the ‘Cuse, filled with confidence, prepares to enter a five-affair portion of its 2019-20 calendar that could go a long way toward determining whether Syracuse earns an invite to next spring’s March Madness. The Orange will go toe to toe with Oklahoma State (5-0), out of the Big 12 Conference, on Wednesday evening in the 2019 NIT Season Tip-Off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Then, the ‘Cuse will suit up versus either Southeastern Conference member Ole Miss or Penn State from the Big Ten Conference in that New York City event, followed by near-term tilts with Iowa at home, as well as Georgia Tech and Georgetown on the road. Talk about a brutal cadre of clashes.
Syracuse, as is well-documented, features a relatively young roster, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the Orange falls in a handful of these meetings. However, if the ‘Cuse can pick up a few successes, that would undoubtedly bolster Syracuse’s resume as it arrives at the back-end of its non-conference slate and pivots to the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference docket.
The initial foe, the Cowboys, presents an intriguing match-up. Oklahoma State, 3-2 all-time against the Orange, is pretty darn stout on defense, allowing just 60.0 points every 40 minutes, although the ‘Cuse is giving up a mere 53.6 points.
Syracuse, as we all know, slows down opponents in its vaunted zone, yet the Cowboys possess a high-pressure defense led by sophomore forward Yor Anei, the Big 12’s premier shot blocker.
As a unit, Oklahoma State forces the opposition into 36.0 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from beyond the arc. As such, the Orange’s deep threats will have to perform admirably, and it’s imperative that ‘Cuse players drive the lane with aggression and precision. Needless to say, Syracuse has to fare better than its current charity-stripe shooting percentage of 65.5.
The Cowboys, who collect roughly 71 points a game, aren’t terrific at seeing the ball go into the hoop. They connect on 42.7 percent from the field, 69.4 percent from the free-throw line, and 30.3 percent from 3-point land. Where Oklahoma State excels is in rebounding, as the Cowboys secure 40.6 boards per encounter. Providing Oklahoma State with second-chance points cannot occur.
Besides holding its own on the glass, the Orange has to continue to produce scoring balance between the perimeter and the paint. The ‘Cuse is sharing the basketball in an efficient manner, notching 17.6 dimes a bout, and that’s exquisite. Syracuse must keep that up, while simultaneously making the Cowboys launch tough 3-point attempts.
The Orange has a tall order in trying to tackle Oklahoma State. I expect a closely fought, defensive-minded struggle, and should the ‘Cuse emerge victorious, Syracuse will have positioned itself for a spectacular Big Apple appearance.