Syracuse hosts Boston College in a New Years Eve tilt on Saturday at 2 p.m. (TV: ACC Network). Here are four things to watch for in the matchup:
Can Syracuse start fast?
Over the past four games, Syracuse has been mired in a troubling trend: Slow starts in the first half. Starting with Georgetown on Dec. 10, Syracuse trailed 17-6 in the first half before ultimately rallying and routing the Hoyas. The Orange also rallied to win despite a first half deficit against Monmouth (-5) and Cornell (-9). Syracuse finally met a deficit it couldn’t overcome, as the Orange trailed 41-33 against Pitt and ultimately lost, 84-82. “If we had started in the beginning with a fight, it wouldn’t have gotten to this situation,” Quadir Copeland said. We’ll see if Syracuse has heeded its lesson against the Eagles.
Will Maliq Brown play extended minutes?
It’s getting difficult to leave Maliq Brown on the bench. In his last four games, he’s averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds, despite only playing 20 minutes a game. Jim Boeheim has frequently lamented how his two starting wings, Benny Williams and Chris Bell, don’t put in the necessary effort to rebound. That’s not the case with Brown, who is tenacious on the boards, and scores without demanding the ball. If Bell or Williams struggle early against Boston College, expect Brown to be the first wing off the bench based on his recent play.
Does Quadir Copeland get another shot at the rotation?
Quadir Copeland had the best game of his young Syracuse career against Pitt, scoring a career-high 10 points and adding five rebounds and two blocks in only 13 minutes. The 13 minutes tied his career-high after he had mostly fallen out of Boeheim’s rotation. Did the energy he brought against Pitt translate into more playing time?
Can Syracuse defend the perimeter?
Boston College is not a good 3-point shooting team. Even saying that is generous considering the Eagles shoot just 26.6 percent from 3-point land. BC’s leading scorer, Makai Ashton-Langford has hit just 6 of his 31 attempts (19.4 percent), while second leading scorer Laeden Zackery is only marginally better, connecting on 12 of his 41 attempts (29.3 percent). The Orange has held opponents to 32.6 percent shooting from downtown, and if they want to win this game, they’ll need to keep Boston College below their season average.