Can impressive paint play help Syracuse break their stat duck

The tallest player on the Syracuse Orange team is 6-11, and he is not the starting Center. The Orange are not the biggest teams in the ACC, but they are not struggling to rebound the ball for some reason. Their smooth ability to clean the glass was on show against the Hokies on Saturday, when they outrebounded the team 46-24 in the paint in a crushing 78-60 win. Despite their length issues, Syracuse was still at a better advantage than the Hokies, hovering over their tallest option in almost every position. According to the stats, the Orange have been on a roll, getting cut at 3-win streaks every time, twice by defeats and once by postponement. Punters will be looking at this particular bit with relish as the team heads to Virginia next. Given that very efficient height advantage and stat line, the sports betting sites better be ready to be painted Orange as fans look to cash in on that.

It is not just the rebounding of Syracuse that is a problem for opponents but how efficient they are in converting those second-chance opportunities into baskets. Against Virginia Tech, 53 of the 73 points came from the frontcourt, and to be honest, Keve Aluma was no match for either frontcourt or Center for Syracuse. The Orange attacked the basket from the opening tip, using their length and presence in the paint to wear out the Hokies. Quincy Guerrier, Alan Griffin, and Marek Dolezaj were a combined 18-31 from the floor, more than 80% of those makes coming around the basket. Per coach Jim Boeheim, it was the perfect game for aggressive basketball, and his player took advantage of that. Every time the Orange needed a basket, they threw the ball to either Guerrier, Dolezaj, or Griffin and let them go to work in the paint. Dolezaj improving from the free-throw line is an instant bonus that paid dividends for the 9-4 Orange. A few years ago, he was a 59% free-throw shooter, now averaging 89%. The 6-10 Forward finished with 18 points in 40 minutes.

The most impressive player of the mix, however, is Quincy Guerrier. At 6-5, the Forward has looked solid all season, refusing to be outdone in the post and paint. Against Virginia Tech, he went to work, scoring 15 pts, and a whopping ten rebounds, including a Ripleys-believe-it-or-not seven blocks! 

The next three games will be an excellent opportunity for the Orange to break that barrier of three-game winning streaks that seems to be their ceiling of a good run this season. The last time they faced off against Virginia was on January 11, 2020, where they won comfortably. They face the NC State Wolfpack, who have not been very bright this season, after Virginia, before taking on the highflying Cardinals.

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