Opponent Preview: What to know about ASU before SU’s 2nd Battle 4 Atlantis game
Elizabeth Billman | Senior Staff Photographer
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After falling to VCU yesterday, Syracuse takes to the court again in the Bahamas to face Arizona State on Thanksgiving. Both teams lost in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis with the Sun Devils falling to Baylor 75-63. Syracuse also lost by 12 points, but to the Rams by a score of 67-55.
Both teams will look to rebound from a tournament-opening loss, with Syracuse potentially looking at a losing record for the first time this season. Here’s everything you need to know about Arizona State (2-3, 0-0 Pac-12) before its matchup with Syracuse (2-2, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) on Thanksgiving day:
Syracuse leads 2-1.
Last time they played
The Orange and the Sun Devils last squared off in a more important tournament — the NCAA Tournament. In 2018, Syracuse topped Arizona State 60-56 in the NCAA First Four. Freshman Oshae Brissett led the Orange in scoring with 23 points and also added 12 rebounds to post his 13th double-double of the season. Tyus Battle scored 15 to propel the Orange into the Tournament once again.
Syracuse would go on to upset sixth-seed TCU before another surprise upset of 3-seed Michigan State to take the Orange to yet another Sweet Sixteen. But Syracuse’s run would end in that round with a loss to second-seed Duke.
KenPom gives Syracuse a 53% chance of winning with a projected score of 74-73.
The Arizona State Report
The Sun Devils have had a similar start this year as Syracuse. They picked up easy wins over Portland and North Florida, but had an upset loss to UC Riverside sandwiched in between the wins. ASU also lost to San Diego State, who Syracuse upset in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Arizona State entered the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament against arguably the best team in the bracket, last year’s national champion Baylor. The Sun Devils led for a small portion of the first half, before the Bears came back to assert their dominance and cruise to a victory.
ASU is currently in the middle of a transition as it lost its top three scorers from last year. Remy Martin led the team and the PAC-12 with 19.1 points per game and he transferred to Kansas. Freshman Josh Christopher was second on the team with 14.3 points per game and used his freshman season to vault his way into the NBA draft as he was taken 24th overall by the Houston Rockets. Alonzo Verge Jr. was third on the team with 14 points per game and he chose to transfer to Nebraska this season.
How Syracuse beats Arizona State
This season Syracuse has lived or died by the 3. So, against a Sun Devils team that ranks 232 in the nation in 3-point defense, according to Kenpom, the Orange must get hot from 3. Syracuse was just 5-for-23 against VCU yesterday and failed to top 60 points, which won’t be enough to topple ASU. Cole Swider was 0-for-7 from 3, a performance which summed up Syracuse’s shooting woes.
To shoot better, the Orange must also pass better. In two wins this season, the Orange have racked up 26 and 17 assists, but in their two losses they’ve gotten just 13 and eight. Sometimes the extra pass out to an open shooter in the corner might help and against ASU, the 3-ball might be open. In both losses, SU tried to mount a comeback, but chucking up contested 3s will never be enough to win. A measured attack with enough 3s to keep the Sun Devils honest should be enough to stop a two-game skid from turning into a three-game losing streak.
Player to watch: Marreon Jackson, Guard, No. 4
Jackson transferred to Arizona State this offseason from Toledo. He was one of the best mid-major players in the country last year averaging 18.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists. The graduate transfer knows how to fill up the stat sheet as he posted two triple-doubles last season.
This season, he’s grown into his role as the leader of the Sun Devils offense. Baylor held him to 0-for-5 from the field, but Jackson still managed to grab 11 rebounds and dish out 10 assists.
Stat to know: 21.7%
In the loss to VCU, Syracuse shot 21.7% from 3. The Orange went from shooting 50% in wins over Lafayette and Drexel to 21.7% against the Rams. For a team featuring shooters like Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard III, Swider and Jimmy Boeheim, the 3-point woes should not continue into Thanksgiving. The Sun Devils don’t have a strong 3-point defense either, so this may prove to be a get-right game for the Orange or another case of poor shooting in a loss.
Published on November 25, 2021 at 12:38 pm
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