Syracuse improved to 31-1 on the season with a 58-55 win over Connecticut on Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
SU will face Cincinnati, who needed overtime to dispatch Georgetown.
The Orange and Bearcats faced each other on Jan. 23, with SU winning 60-53 at Fifth Third Arena. Will the Bearcats get revenge for that loss?
Here are three other questions to ask on Friday:
WILL BOEHEIM KEEP THE SAME ROLES?
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim made several adjustments to his lineup on Thursday.
For starters, he benched Rakeem Christmas and promoted CJ Fair to the lineup. But Christmas was used as Fab Melo’s backup off the bench in place of the ineffective Baye Keita, who didn’t play at all.
The moves had mixed results.
On the one hand, Christmas had one of the best games of his young career with two blocks and five rebounds in eight minutes of play. He also played solid defense on Andre Drummond.
But Fair struggled in the starting lineup, missing all four of his shots from the field in 15 minutes. Fair ended up being benched in the second half in favor of the suddenly sharpshooting James Southerland.
The lineup figures to remain the same against the Bearcats on Friday. Syracuse can only hope Fair settles into the starting five.
WILL SYRACUSE CONTAIN YANCY GATES?
The last time these two teams met, Melo didn’t travel with the team because of a reported academic issue.
Without Melo, Gates dominated inside, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Gates had another outstanding performance against Georgetown in the Big East championship quarterfinals, with 23 points and eight rebounds.
Gates will have a more difficult time inside now that Melo—the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Year—is back with the Orange, but it is an intriguing matchup to keep an eye on.
CAN SYRACUSE REBOUND BETTER?
It’s been one of SU’s biggest problems the entire season and it was again on Thursday.
The Orange was outrebounded 46-34 by Connecticut, and allowed 18 offensive rebounds.
Part of the reason was that Fair, one of SU’s best rebounders, was benched in favor of Southerland, who is not known for that.
But there is good news from SU’s last game against the Bearcats. Despite not having Melo in the lineup, the Orange managed to have a +1 margin on the boards.
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