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Three Keys to Syracuse Victory Over Wake Forest

How the Orange can pull off the upset over the Demon Deacons.

It started with fun, hot shooting sequences between both teams, but then ended with several frustrating whistles and some untimely misses at the charity stripe the last time Syracuse faced off against Wake Forest.

Although the Orange saw Jimmy Boeheim come through with arguably his best game to date, dropping 21 points while shooting 9-17 from the field, the Demon Deacons eventually marched on to a 77-74 overtime victory.

The gut punch loss dropped Syracuse to 7-8 on the season and 1-3 in conference play. Having gone 2-3 since, the team has struggled to get up off the mat, trading wins and losses alike.

But now, the Orange find themselves with an opportunity to take their revenge as Wake Forest travels north to meet them in the Dome on Saturday night. To provide a sequel with a much better ending though, they need to check off these three boxes.

AVOID FOUL TROUBLE

A box score usually only tells you so much, but the one from Syracuse’s previous game against Wake Forest first points out where they need to improve the most. During that heartbreaking contest, the Orange committed 21 fouls which gave way to a 25-14 free-throw attempt disparity in favor of the Demon Deacons.

But those who also watched the game live know that the timeliness of such fouls played a significant factor as well.

Thrown into foul purgatory seemingly right after tipoff, multiple Syracuse players got handcuffed to the bench at key times throughout the contest to avoid disqualification. The most devastating blow came when Jesse Edwards did end up fouling out still with nine minutes to play, slapping the cuffs shut on him and throwing away the key.

Giving up free points at the line while also keeping your best players off the floor represents a recipe for disaster that surely ends in another loss for the Orange. Wake Forest has shot the second most free throws in the ACC this year, so playing disciplined defense against them will come as no easy task.

But the Orange need to try, and especially look to stay home when guarding ACC-leading scorer Aldones Williams, who resembles one of just four conference players to sink over 80 shots from the stripe so far this year.

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WIN TURNOVER AND REBOUNDING BATTLES

Averaging the second most points per game and shooting it at the second highest clip in the ACC, the Demon Deacons possess a high powered offense—certain to batter and boil the Orange who have struggled extensively on defense this year. They put it on full display the last time out vs the Orange, shooting better from both the field and beyond the arc.

But amidst those disadvantages, Syracuse stuck with Wake Forest during that game thanks to two important factors: rebounding and turnovers.

On the glass, Syracuse carved out a +7 rebound differential, even coming away with 15 boards at the offensive end. They also forced Wake Forest into 13 turnovers to their nine. Collectively, that led to 17 extra field goal attempts for the Orange, making up for their offensive inefficiency.

Although Syracuse indeed ended up losing, they need to follow that blueprint which got them into a neck-and-neck battle with Wake Forest when they had no business doing so. Fighting for rebounds and forcing turnovers will keep them afloat, so it naturally remains a top priority.

SHOOT BETTER FROM THREE

Although Wake Forest’s offense still puts up better numbers than Syracuse’s from a general standpoint, their 3-point prowess over the Orange during their previous game came as an anomaly.

With the Orange shooting 35.9 percent from deep this season, a top half mark in the ACC, their long range missile system looks far more accurate than that of the Demon Deacons, who shoot 32.9 percent from deep—a bottom four conference mark.

So as the Orange look to avoid foul trouble and scrap for extra possessions, they need to also flex their lone muscles on offense rather than quiver up this time around, burying Wake Forest with a barrage of triples.

Look for Buddy Boeheim and Joseph Girard III to bounce back. They shot a combined 4-18 on threes during Syracuse’s last game vs Wake Forest. Despite tough outings the other night against Pittsburgh as well, they remain top-22 3-point percentage guys in the ACC.