Orange Take on Shockers

The Syracuse University men's basketball team takes the floor on Saturday night for their first major test of the season when they take on the #17 ranked Wichita State Shockers. The Shockers, who invade the Carrier Dome with a 5-0 record, are playing inspired basketball. Last Saturday, they faced a highly regarded LSU and battled their way to an impressive road victory over the Tigers.

Head coach Mark Turgeon employs a small but athletic nine-player lineup that capitalizes on creating mismatches that the Shockers can exploit. In many ways, the Wichita State lineup is eerily similar to Villanova's from last year.

The Shockers best player is Sean Ogirri [PPG 12.2 | APG 1.2 | RPG 2.2], a 6-2 combo guard who leads a balanced scoring attack. Ogirri is a deadly marksman from three point range [.457].

The leading scorer and rebounder for Wichita State is Kyle Wilson [PPG 12.4 | APG 1.8 | RPG 5.6], the only legitimate big man in Turgeon's rotation. The 6-8 235 pound Wilson, an Illinois transfer, is equally adept scoring with his back to the basket as he is facing up from the perimeter. On offense, Wilson's outside touch draws defending big men away from the basket, opening scoring lanes for the guards to attack.

Versatile PJ Couisnard [PPG 12.0 | APG 3.8 | RPG 5.8] is another dangerous bombardier [.462] capable of torching the opposition from outside. The 6-4 native of Houston, Texas leads the team in assists and is second in rebounding despite being a swingman.

Joining Wilson up front is Ryan Martin [PPG 11.8 | APG .6 | RPG 7.2]. Despite being undersized at 6-5, Martin defends the post and knows how to get the job done on the glass.

The straw that stirs Wichita State's drink is point guard Matt Brauer [PPG 2.8 | APG 3.6 | RPG 2.2]. Brauer is struggling with his shooting this year [.250 percentage overall], but can knock down three point shots if left open [.333]. Most importantly, he orchestrates a potent attack that led the Missouri Valley conference in assist-to-turnover ratio.

Senior Karon Bradley [PPG 8.2 | APG 1.6 | RPG 2.6] is a Marquette transfer who made an impact for the Shockers last season. Although he's more of a slasher than a shooter, Bradley can put the ball in the basket. His real value comes as an athletic, quick, ballhawking defender.

Philip Thomasson [PPG 6.2 | APG .4 | RPG 5.0] provides quality depth up front. The Colorado State transfer knows how to use his size [6-7 225 pounds] to good effect down low [.560 shooting percentage]. Thomasson has scored in double figures in Wichita State's last two games.

Rounding out the Shocker rotation are guards Gal Mekel [PPG 4.4 | APG 1.2 | RPG .6] and Wendell Preadom [PPG 1.0 | APG 1.2 | RPG 2.2]. Mekel, an Israeli national player that Wichita State was able to land over Providence, provides Turgeon with another dangerous shooter [.455 from three point range]. The Shockers expect great things for him down the road. Preadom doesn't look to shoot very often [only two field goal attempts in the Shockers' last four games], but provides quality defense and hustle.

Outlook: Wichita State doesn't do anything spectacular, other than play 40 minutes of solid, team basketball every game. Despite being undersized, they are a good rebounding team—one that is capable of exploiting Syracuse's subpar rebounding on both ends of the floor. On offense, the Shockers employ a deliberate style that focuses on team execution and precision passing over one-on-one play. They shoot the lights from three point range, so expect to see more man-to-man than zone from the Orange tonight.

Wichita State prefers to play a slower tempo, so possessions will be at a premium. And coming off their win over LSU, the Shockers will not be intimidated playing in front of the Carrier Dome crowd.

Tonight's game begins a difficult two-game stretch for the Orange. A win tonight will give the Orange national credibility and further solidify the team's status amongst the top teams in the nation. A loss would put the team in the unenviable position of having to bounce back against Oklahoma State on Monday at Madison Square Garden. Wichita State's upset at LSU served notice that the Shockers are for real, so it is unlikely that the Orange will be looking past their opponent tonight. Expect the Orange to rise to the occasion and take down the Shockers, setting the stage for Monday night's nationally televised battle with the Cowboys.

Prediction: Syracuse 67 Wichita State 64

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