Syracuse – Coppin State Preview

The 11th ranked Orange welcome the Eagles to snowy New York for their final non-conference tilt of the regular season. While this one should be a walk in the park for SU, the team can't count their proverbial chickens before the eggs hatch, even though the holiday break beckons.

Following a 72-65 road win over Memphis, Syracuse looks to get win number twelve under its belt when it hosts Coppin State.  This is just the third all-time meeting between the teams.  SU rolled 74-56 in their most recent meeting ten years ago.  Coppin State has lost thirty straight games against ranked opponents and brings a young, inexperienced squad into this one.

The Eagles lost five of their top six scorers from last year's NCAA tourney team.  And there should be an asterisk beside the NCAA tourney team designation, as the Eagles finished with a sub .500 record but were able to get hot in the MEAC conference tournament to snare a surprise bid to the tourney.  Senior guard Tywain McKee will be the focal point of the Eagles' offense.  He averages nearly twenty points per contest and leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. 

While Coppin State has played a tough schedule, they've managed to hang tough on the scoreboard.  They average just ten points less than they give up (60 to 70), but that stat doesn't tell the whole story.  The Eagles have just one player on their team with an assist-to-turnover ratio greater than one.  They also have just three players shooting above 38% from the floor this season.  To top that off, they're an extremely undersized team that has yet to gel.  They average only thirty rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

As a result of all this, the Orange should have a field day.  Subs should get plenty of playing time and it wouldn't be surprising if Jonny Flynn sees reduced minutes in this contest, just two days after gutting out all forty while nursing an ailing hip.  Expect SU to run at every opportunity and use the 2-3 zone to fluster another opponent.  While Coppin State is better behind the arc than Memphis (who dropped a 7 for 33 dud in Saturday's game), they still are merely 31 percent from distance.

On the offensive end, SU should be able to exploit its superior quickness and size.  Expect Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku to be dominant in the low post and SU to cruise.

Six Things To Think About/Watch For:

  • ·       The Orange will likely have two objectives for this game.  The first, like I mentioned above, is curtailing Flynn's minutes.  The second is to see what freshman Kris Joseph and Mookie Jones can provide for the team.  The talented duo will likely receive extensive playing time in this one. 
  • ·       Another who deserves some playing time is Kristof Ongenaet.  The senior is known for his hustle much more than his talent.  While inserting Jackson in the starting lineup was the right decision, Kristof needs to see some results for his hard work.  Hopefully it will come in this contest for the Orange, because Ongenaet's minutes will likely be few and far between once Big East play hits.
  • ·       Jim Boeheim recently passed Lute Olson for ninth on the list of all-time wins for men's college basketball coaches.  He'll have a chance to get his 783rd career victory in this game, meaning he'll still have an outside shot at reaching the 800-win plateau by the end of this season.  If you do the math, you'll find that SU will need to win 29 games to make this happen.  And that's a possibility, given Syracuse's quick start to the season.
  • ·       The key matchup of the game will revolve around a pair of guards:  Jonny Flynn and Tywain McKee.  It will be interesting to see how Flynn and Rautins (they'll presumably be guarding him for most of the game – or at least when it's close) fare in this matchup.  Both have shown the ability to get steals with their quick hands and anticipation in the zone.  Meanwhile, Coppin State has no one that can come close to Jonny.  He should be able to drive, dish and dominate all night.
  • ·       How will Rick Jackson fare after his coming out party in the national spotlight?  The Philly native has grown exponentially this year, but the southpaw still needs a softer touch around the rim.
  • ·       Will SU break the century mark for the first time this season?  Unfortunately, that's rather unlikely since we could see subs playing most of the second half for SU.  That's okay though; scoring is overrated, it's the scoring margin that counts and SU should be fine in this one.  That being said, they should still get you a taco though if you go to the Loudhouse for the game.

Prediction:  Syracuse 83, Coppin State 56

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