The Last Time
Syracuse knocked off Florida State 85-71 inside the Carrier Dome in a battle of two bubble teams. The game, really, wasn't even that close. The Orange dominated from start to finish led by a fantastic shooting performance that saw the team shoot make 62% of their shots on the night.
Michael Gbinije had a game-high 22 points on 7-8 shooting, including 4-5 from beyind the three-point arc. Malachi Richardson, Tyler Roberson and DaJuan Coleman combined to shoot 14-21 from the floor for 34 combined points.
Defensively, Syracuse limited the two stellar Seminole freshmen, Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley, to just 8-28 shooting combined. They forced 15 Florida State turnovers and held the 'Noles to 8-26 shooting from distance.
The biggest issue for the Orange, however, was turning it over themselves. The hot shooting was partially offset by 20 turnovers, which Florida State converted into 28 points.
Syracuse won the battle of the boards 35-28, but gave up 17 offensive rebounds to FSU.
What to Watch For
Turnovers: Syracuse turned it over 20 times in the first meeting while Florida State did so on 15 occasions. Whichever team cleans up the errors will have a big advantage in this one. Syracuse, specifically, cannot make those mental mistakes that lead to easy buckets on the other end.
Shooting: Will Syracuse be able to hold Florida State to 41% shooting overall and 31% from the three-point line? It will be tough, but the zone clearly confused the Seminoles in the last meeting. The key for the Orange defense is keeping Bacon and Beasley out of the lane and forcing them to take contested jumpers from the outside. Syracuse was on fire in the last matchup and odds are that will be tough to replicate. FSU is not a great defensive team, however, so the Orange still has an opportunity for a productive offensive afternoon.
Free-Throws Matter: Florida State really struggled from the charity stripe in the last meeting, making only 12 of their 22 attempts. If they want to win this game and keep any NCAA Tournament hopes they have alive, they must convert on those chances. Syracuse has struggled all season from the line, but did make 15 of their 21 shots against the 'Noles the last time around.
Rebounding: Syracuse won the battle of the boards last time 35-28. Part of that had to do with the offense making so many shots. But still, they limited a Florida State front court that has some size in the rebounding department. Gbinije snatched eight, Richardson added six and Tyler Lydon grabbed 10.
Freshmen: Each team has freshmen that will have huge impacts on the game. Florida State has Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley, two dynamic offensive players who can take over games. Syracuse has Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon who have versatile games but have been up and down this season. Whichever duo has the better game will likely be on the winning side.
Attacking the Rim: Beasley and Bacon are both at their best when they are getting into the lane and making plays. Both can attack the basket and finish at the rim. SU did a great job keeping them out of there in the first meeting and will attempt to do the same this time around. Syracuse had a lot of success in the last meeting doing just that. Only 17 of their 50 shot attempts were three-pointers. Clearly the Orange do not fear FSU's interior presence, so expect a similar game plan in this one.