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Syracuse men’s basketball opponent preview: What to know about Morehead State

first_imgSyracuse (1-0) opened the 2018-19 season in convincing fashion with a 66-34 win over Eastern Washington. The Orange were led by 20 points from Oshae Brissett and strong-pressure defense. Next up for SU: host Morehead State (1-0) on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Eagles opened the season with a 102-82 win over Kentucky Christian, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school. The NAIA is a small colleges equivalent of the NCAA. Morehead State takes on Connecticut on Thursday night before traveling to Syracuse.Here’s what to know about the Eagles.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 2-0Last time they played: The Orange beat Morehead State, 110-69, on Dec. 28, 1987. Then-junior Sherman Douglas led the way for Syracuse with 29 points. Rony Seikaly added 15 rebounds. The two schools first met in the 1983 NCAA Tournament, and SU won by 15.The Morehead State report: In Morehead State’s opener against NAIA opposition, four Eagles scored in double figures: De’von Cooper, Malek Green, A.J. Hicks and Jordan Walker. Last year, Hicks and Walker were the two leading scorers for Morehead State.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Eagles pose less of a threat from 3-point land than Eastern Washington, as Morehead State made 32.3 percent from beyond the arc last year. That’s not offset with much size. Russian freshman Sasha Sukhanov is 6-foot-11, but no other Eagles player is taller than 6-foot-7. Sukhanov tied for the second-fewest minutes on Morehead State in its opening win, so he may not factor into the rotation much against Syracuse.Morehead State didn’t have too many positives in an 8-21 season a year ago. The two places KenPom.com ranked them somewhat highly in were free-throw rate and offensive rebound percentage, where the Eagles ranked in the top-100 in the country. The leading offensive rebounder is no longer with the team, but two 6-foot-7 forwards, Green and Lamontray Harris, averaged more than one offensive rebound per game last season.The Eagles were near the middle of the pack in both average possession length and percentage of 3-pointers attempted out of total field goals. So in that sense, the attack is balanced and Morehead State brings back its top four scorers.How Syracuse beats Morehead State: The Orange should have no trouble shutting the Eagles down. Even in its 102 points on opening night against Kentucky Christian, Morehead State shot 7-for-22 from 3-point range, 31.8 percent. If Syracuse doesn’t have to be concerned with floor spacing, it can focus on getting rebounds and limited second chances. Morehead State crashes the offensive boards aggressively, trying to compensate for its height with second chance opportunities. SU just has to grab the first rebounds.Last year, Morehead State played a ranked Xavier team on the season’s opening weekend and lost, 101-49. As long as Syracuse rebounds and Buddy Boeheim and Tyus Battle combine for better than Tuesday’s 4-for-21, SU should wind up in similar territory.KenPom odds: KenPom.com gives Syracuse a 98 percent chance to win, by an 81-58 score.Stat to know: 27.1 percentSyracuse held Eastern Washington to a 27.1 percent effective field goal percentage on Tuesday night, a ratio which accounts for 3-pointers added value. Most teams have played one game, so that’s second in the nation. One game stats aren’t especially significant, but the Orange were one of the country’s top defenses this year and held EWU to the lowest points in the Carrier Dome by an SU opponent ever on Tuesday. Incorporating new players hasn’t slowed down Syracuse’s defense yet.Player to watch: A.J. Hicks, guard, No. 0Hicks was the second-leading scorer (11 points per game) for the Eagles a season ago, along with leading Morehead State in assists and steals. The 6-foot senior did most of his damage from inside the arc, shooting 31 percent from 3 and only getting about a quarter of his field goals from beyond the arc. In Morehead State’s season opener, Hicks scored 10 points with six assists on 4-for-7 from the floor, including 2-for-4 from 3. He’ll have to run the show effectively against SU’s press and zone to keep the Eagles in the game. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on November 7, 2018 at 10:42 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3last_img

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