5 things to watch for in Syracuse’s matchup against Oakland

Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes
Dec 18, 2019: Syracuse Orange guard Elijah Hughes battles the Oakland Golden Grizzlies defense. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Coming off its first ACC win of the season, Syracuse returns home to face Oakland on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. at the Carrier Dome (TV: ACC Network). Here are five things to watch for in the game.

Can Syracuse start a new streak?

Tuesday’s game marks a seven-game homestand for the Orange where they can potentially go on a winning streak. All of the teams SU faces, including Oakland, Georgetown, Monmouth, Cornell, Pitt and Boston College should be games SU is favored in. Winning all seven and jumping out to an 11-4 record heading into the heart of ACC play would put the Orange in a good position to, at the very least, stave of a second straight losing season for Jim Boeheim.

Is John Bol Ajak a mainstay in the rotation?

John Bol Ajak has patiently waited his turn. After two seasons where he appeared in just 22 games, averaging around 5.1 minutes in those appearances, Ajak has appeared to finally crack the rotation. The junior forward has upped his average minutes to 14.5 in four games, and had perhaps the best conference performance of his career in the win against Notre Dame. Aside from finishing with 2 points and 4 assists in 18 minutes, Ajak also made a key close out on Dane Goodwin’s potential game-winning shot from the corner. Ajak plays unselfishly, and with energy, and he’s earned the opportunity for additional playing time.

Can Joe Girard find the touch again?

Joe Girard snapped out of his funk against Notre Dame, finishing with 20 points on an efficient 50 percent shooting from the field. That said, Girard is still shooting just 32.8 percent from downtown, down from 40.3 percent in his junior season. He was just 2-10 against the Fighting Irish, adding to his struggles where he shot just 1-13 in games against Illinois, Bryant and St. John’s.

» Related: Edwards stars as Syracuse defeats Notre Dame

Who will play major minutes at wing?

Chris Bell and Justin Taylor have alternatively taken turns getting big minutes at wing this season. Over a four game stretch, Bell played 34, 35, 28 and 27 minutes. That run came to an end against Notre Dame, where he played just 10 minutes, giving way to Justin Taylor, who played 30. Meanwhile in the past three games, aside from his 30 minute night against ND, Taylor also played 23 and 26 minutes. Whoever gets the hot hand early will get the playing time, and it will be interesting to see who that is between Taylor and Bell.

Will Syracuse continue to feature Jesse Edwards?

If Syracuse wants to win, it should stay inside and look for Jesse Edwards as much as possible. Edwards had one of his best games of the season against Notre Dame, playing all 40 minutes and finishing with 22 points and 14 rebounds, taking 15 shots. That should continue into Tuesday, as the Golden Grizzlies’ tallest player in their main rotation is Trey Townsend at 6’6″. There is some size further down the bench in 6’9″ sophomore forward Chris Conway and 6’8″ sophomore forward Will Shepherd, but Edwards should have little issue with them, so long as the Orange look for him.

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About Rutger Sears 129 Articles
Rutger is a freelance writer and as a Syracuse native, has an affinity for all Syracuse University Athletics. From Donovan McNabb to Mike Powell, Rutger has seen greatness in many forms don an Orange uniform over the last 30 years. He covers all Syracuse athletics with a particular emphasis on football and recruiting.