Men's Basketball

Cramming for California: What to know about Syracuse-Cal

Ahead of Syracuse’s round of 32 meeting with No.-12 seed California, The Daily Orange has prepared a full menu of stats, matchups and generally enjoyable facts.

Stat to know

10

Number of California losses in which the Golden Bears have trailed at halftime. That is every single defeat except Cal’s 79-69 overtime loss to Utah in the Pacific-12 quarterfinals. The Golden Bears led by one at the break.

Good stat

9 SU steals per game

If Syracuse gets out, runs and doesn’t have to come up with half-court sets, Syracuse wins. That starts in Boeheim’s long 2-3 zone. By contrast, Cal averages 5.8 steals per game. There are very few teams the Orange doesn’t want to get into a track meet with. The Golden Bears are not one of those teams.

Bad stat

2, Syracuse’s losses to 10-plus loss teams

The Orange plays in the Big East where conference foes beat up in each other regularly. The two suchs teams SU lost to were UConn and Villanova. The Wildcats are a No. 9 seed and the Huskies would be a Tournament team if they weren’t banned from the postseason. In its last recognizable go-around the conference placed eight teams in the tourney.

Matchup to watch
Brandon Triche vs. Allen Crabbe
Though both teams run a zone, expect Triche and Crabbe to find themselves frequently matched up on the perimeter. Crabbe is a volume shooter – he attempts more than 14 shots per game – and shoots almost 35 percent from beyond the arc. Triche and fellow guard Michael Carter-Williams could be in for a taxing day on the defensive end. But Crabbe won’t have it easy either. Triche is coming off perhaps his best performance of the season and is firmly out of the slump that lasted the better part of the final six weeks of the regular season.

Player to watch
Tyrone Wallace
The freshman is a difference maker for California. The 6-foot-4 Wallace is a key component of the Golden Bears’ three-guard offense and, while he’s failed to log more than three points in Cal’s last three games, he’s gotten stronger as the season’s gone on. The former Scout.com No. 88 recruit matched a season high with 16 points and grabbed a season best 11 rebounds against Colorado on March 2. He’s a capable ballhandler and scorer, which could make him an effective zone-buster against Syracuse’s stout defense, though Michael Carter-Williams should be able to match Wallace’s length.

Free throws
Syracuse forward James Southerland drained just one 3-pointer in the Orange’s 81-34 win over No. 13-seed Montana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and it led to his second consecutive single-digit scoring outing. Before Thursday’s victory, the last time SU won a game in which the senior failed to crack 10 points was during his suspension. Syracuse defeated then-No. 25 Notre Dame on Feb. 4.

C.J. Fair played perhaps the worst game of his career against Georgetown in the Big East semifinals when he scored just six points on 3-of-16 shooting. Since then, though, he’s been red hot. He’s made 5-of-6 3-point attempts, has scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

SU small forward Jerami Grant’s eight rebounds in the 81-34 win over No. 13-seed Montana led the team. It’s the first time Grant has led the team in a major category – points, rebounds or assists – since a Feb. 13 loss to Connecticut.

Syracuse has never lost to California, but the school’s have only met once, on Nov. 19 2009. The Orange won 95-73.
Big number
20-1
Syracuse’s record this season when point guard Michael Carter-Williams dishes out at least seven assists. The sole loss the Orange has suffered when Carter-Williams is distributing at this rate came in the Big East championship game against Louisville. The sophomore handed out nine helpers in that game, but just three during the disastrous second half.

—Compiled by  Jacob Klinger and David Wilson, asst. sports editors

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