Points of Emphasis: Louisville vs. Syracuse

Here are the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Louisville's men's basketball's matchup with the Syracuse Orange
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(Photo of David Johnson, Buddy Boeheim: Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Thanks to a pair of career days from both David Johnson and Samuell Williamson, Louisville got back in the win column for a decisive win over Georgia Tech. Next up for the Cardinals (11-4, 6-3 ACC), they have a short turnaround and will hit the road to face Syracuse (10-5, 4-4 ACC). Tipoff is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7:00 p.m. EST on the ACC Network.

Here are a couple of the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Cardinals' matchup with the Orange:

Cracks in the Armor?

Whenever you think of Syracuse, one of the first things that comes to mind is their 2-3 zone that head coach Jim Boeheim has ran seemingly since the dawn of time. While the Orange still employ that defense, it has not been as effective as it has been in years past.

Per KemPom, Syracuse is ranked just 78th in defensive efficiency - the ninth-best mark in the ACC. It's an improvement from last year's 116th ranking, but there's a clear overall decline. Three of Syracuse's worst defenses in the KenPom era (1997-Present) have come in the last five seasons.

Of course, that's not to say the Orange are abysmal on defense, because that's far from the case. They do surrender 70.3 points per game, but they also average 4.9 blocks and 8.7 steals per game, both of which are the best in the ACC and top 25 in the nation.

Longtime staples of the Syracuse 2-3 zone are also present. 44.5% of their opponents total field goal attempts have been three-pointers, and Orange opponents have assisted on 66.2% of their total made field goals.

Offensive Show of Force

As much as Syracuse's defense will be to handle, their offense is even more so, and the bonafide strength of this Orange team. That is because every single member of Syracuse's starting five is averaging double figures in scoring.

The conversation starts with Quincy Guerrier. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward is not only their top scorer at 16.3 points per game, but also their top rebounder with 9.5 boards per game. Second in both categories is 6-foot-5 forward Allen Griffin, who puts up 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

While guard Joseph Girard and forward Marek Dolezaj are on completely separate ends of the basketball position spectrum, they both excel at ball distribution. They lead the team in assists with 3.9 & 3.6 per game, respectively, while also scoring 11.0 & 10.2 points per game

The least efficient of the group is probably guard Buddy Boeheim, who is shooting just 37.8% from the field and 29.5% from beyond the arc. However, since he takes the second-most shots on the team, he is third in scoring with 14.8 points per game.

Bench? What Bench?

Louisville better get used to seeing Syracuse's starting five, because they won't get to see many other players. One reason that all five starters average double figures, is that Boeheim avoids going to his bench at all costs.

In fact, Syracuse's bench consists of just 17.0% of their minutes played so far this season. That mark is good for just 343rd out of the 347 active D1 teams, the lowest in the ACC and the lowest among Power Five conferences.

Think it gets better when the starters collect two fouls before halftime? Think again. Syracuse is fifth in the nation in two-foul participation, letting players with two fouls play in 68.2% of their available minutes before halftime.

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