Matchup Preview: Syracuse vs. Iowa

We breakdown the consolation game of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.

The Matchup: #23 Syracuse (2-1) vs. Iowa (2-1)
Date: 11/21/14
Time: 5:00pm Eastern
Location: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Event: 2K Classic Television: ESPN2

Players To Watch

C Rakeem Christmas - Syracuse: Syracuse’s top offensive option, Christmas has to stay out of foul trouble. There is a significant lack of depth behind him at center, leaving the Orange significantly depleted on both ends of the floor. He has to be good for Syracuse to win against solid teams.

G Kaleb Joseph - Syracuse: The true freshman point guard plays out of control at times, which leads to careless turnovers. He is still adjusting to the college game, which hurts the Orange offensive flow. He showed more flashes against Cal than in previous games, but still has a long way to go. Lets see how Joseph responds on the second night of a back-to-back.

F Aaron White - Iowa: White has been Iowa’s best player this season, and gave the Texas big men fits at times in their loss on Thursday. White can score in the post, rebounds well, hits the mid-range jumper and is an excellent passer. He will test the Orange bigs in this one much like Kravish did for Cal.

G Anthony Clemmons - Iowa: Clemmons is a sharp-shooting guard who is one of the better scorers for the Hawkeyes. With Syracuse’s zone struggling early in the season, that could mean open shots for the junior guard. If he is hitting them, it could be a long night for the Orange once again.

The Zone

Despite forcing 15 turnovers, the Syracuse defense was poor against Cal. They gave up too many open looks from the outside, and too often were beaten on the inside for easy looks at the rim. They have to better if they are to avoid an 0-2 trip to New York City.

The key for Iowa will be the play of White. He will likely play at the high post and facilitate. If Christmas comes out on him, he will dish to backdoor cutters. If Christmas leaves him open, he will shoot the mid-range jumper. White’s play could really give the Orange trouble along the backline of the zone.

The other option for the Hawkeyes is strong outside shooting. They struggled against Texas but were strong in their first two games of the year. Clemmons is their best pure shooter, and they will run set plays to get him good looks.

Junior forward Jarrod Uthof is also in the discussion with Clemmons as Iowa’s best outside shooter. At 6-foot-8, he can shoot over the top of opposing defenders and drill outside shots. He is 8-14 from beyond the arc in three games this season.

Reserve guard Josh Oglesby can also hit the outside shot. He has not hit a high percentage of his attempts this season, but has a track record as a streaky shooter. He has taken at least five three-point attempts in every game this season.

Center Adam Woodbury will be key as well for Iowa. With White playing the high post, Woodbury’s ability to find the open spots inside will dictate a lot. Especially if he can put pressure on Christmas to try to get him into foul trouble.

At 7-foot-1, he rebounds the ball very well. If Iowa is not hitting their outside shots, the battle between White, Woodbury, Christmas and McCullough on the glass will be vital to the outcome.

Final Thoughts

This is going to be another tough test for Syracuse as they face another opponent with experience, strong outside shooters and versatile bigs. Christmas has to stay out of foul trouble and the Orange have to shoot better. Michael Gbinije had a solid game against Cal offensively, so maybe he needs to be more involved.

Kaleb Joseph has to play more under control and limit his turnovers. Cooney, when he does get open looks, has to hit them to give the offense a boost.

Syracuse will likely continue to struggle to score early in the season as the young guys develop. They will have to play well defensively in order to win games against stiff competition. The zone’s ability to frustrate White and limit open looks from the outside will determine the outcome in this one.

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