Game Preview: Montana State vs. Syracuse

Looking ahead to the Montana State Bobcats on Tuesday at the Dome.

GAME 12: Montana State (5-6 overall, 0-0 Big Sky) vs. Syracuse (8-3 overall, 0-0 ACC)

ALL-TIME SERIES: Syracuse, 2-0 (Last Meeting 2013 - Syracuse: W, 81-34)

DATE: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015


LOCATION: Carrier Dome

TV: ESPN 3: this can be accessed on a variety of platforms if you have a Watch ESPN log in (free account).  Watch ESPN provides access to ESPN 3 content via an account and apps on the Internet, Tablets and Smart Phones.  Currently, the game will not be broadcast locally on television.  Check your guides and channels for spontaneous changes.

ORANGE RECAP: Syracuse was able to get back in the win column by holding off the Cornell Big Red 67-46 in a tough fought game at the Carrier Dome.  The score is not indicative of the entire flow of the game, as Cornell found themselves only down by four points at halftime (30-26).  Both teams were rather sluggish to start, as the Orange was coming of a week break and Cornell two weeks.  The highlight of the night was play of Tyler Roberson.  He finally managed to make his presence felt on both ends of the floor tallying 15 points, 12 rebounds (8 offensive), 2 blocks and 70% percent shooting (7-10 FG).  Roberson really needed this spark and hopefully it will carry on as the ‘Cuse desperately needs consistent rebounding and assistance in scoring, alleviating the load from Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney.  Malachi Richardson continued his assertiveness on the offensive end providing 15 points of his own and added eight rebounds.  This stat is critical for Richardson because Syracuse needs to own the glass throughout the remainder of the season with their length, and guard rebounding can become a pivotal part of that equation.  Gbinije added seven rebounds and DaJuan Coleman grabbed seven of his own to lead to 48 total rebounds (17 offensive).  This was the first time since playing Connecticut at the Battle 4 Atlantis that they out-rebounded an opponent.  If these trends continue, the Orange could go on a nice run here till ACC play begins.

MONTANA STATE: The Bobcats come to Syracuse with a 5-6 record, and a recent 80-73 loss at the hands Buffalo.  This is the second game on a New York swing for Montana State as they return back to the Midwest region beginning conference play on New Year’s Eve against Big Sky foe Southern Utah.  Montana State is one of the virtual unknowns in Division I basketball, as the Big Sky Conference receives very little attention nationally.  The last NCAA Tournament appearance came in 1996, against ironically the national runner-up, the Syracuse “Orangemen” (see John Wallace); and their last post-season entry outside of their conference tournament came in the 2002 NIT with a win and loss over Utah State and Richmond respectively.  This season’s version of the Bobcats has seen their five victories come against the following opponents: Hawaii-Hilo (Division II), San Jose State (Mountain West) twice, Wyoming (Mountain West) and Utah Valley (WAC).  Players to watch include Marcus Colbert (G, #22) averaging 17.7 PPG and Tyler Hall (G, #3) with 16.7 PGG.  Both Colbert and Hall are shooting above 40% from the 3-point line, which could provide fits for the Syracuse zone.  Again, the Orange appears to be the better team, but Cornell proved that a strong first half seems to keep opponents in the game at the Dome.


1.      The Tyler Roberson Plug In.  As interim head coach Mike Hopkins indicated in his press conference after the Cornell game, it is essential in order for the Orange to keep their winning ways if Roberson and his teammates are locked in and possessing high energy heading into each contest.  If Syracuse can control the glass as they did on Saturday, this team will be trending upward over the holiday weeks.

2.      Trevor Cooney seems to be hitting a little bit of a wall in his stamina.  Not to be alarmed, as this will happen periodically throughout the season with the amount of minutes he plays, logging 34 in the last game.  It seems to impact him most in the first half of games until he can get his legs under him and knock down shots.  Like with Roberson, Cooney is at his best when he is in the follow of the game and a fixture in the offense early.  Mentally shooters can overcome fatigue when they are making their shots and getting touches.

3.      Scoring for Tyler Lydon needs to increase a little.  He is certainly doing a lot of great things in other columns, as his rebounding and blocked shots bring so much to the team.  But, if Lydon can get his scoring average around 12 or 15 points a game (currently at 10.1), it will give that extra threat to be relied upon when Gbinije, Cooney or Richardson have an off night.

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