Game 7: No. 2 Kansas vs. Syracuse – Preview and Prediction

KU takes on Syracuse in the Hoop Hall Invitational.

The Jayhawks put their unblemished record on the line on Saturday when they travel to Miami to take on the Syracuse Orange. Kansas is coming off a 96-58 romp of Toledo. It was the fourth straight game where KU has posted 95+ points. They’ll get a step up in competition with the Orange

About Syracuse: Despite making a surprise run to the Final Four two years ago, Syracuse really hasn’t been Syracuse for a few years now. Last season Jim Boeheim’s squad missed the NCAA Tournament, finishing 19-15 and losing in the second round of the NIT. This year, the Orange lost the likes of Tyler Lydon, former KU guard Andrew White III and John Gillon. Despite the departures, Syracuse is undefeated and coming off an upset win of Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They are 6-0, with all six wins coming at home in the Carrier Dome.

Game Info and Notes:

  • Saturday, December 2nd, 2017 at 4:30 pm CT
  • American Airlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
  • ESPN or the WatchESPN app
  • Syracuse leads the all-time series at 3-2. The Jayhawks and Orange last met on Nov. 25, 2008, in the championship game of the CBE Classic. Syracuse won the meeting, 89-81, in overtime.
  • These two met in the 2003 national title game; Syracuse also won that matchup.
  • Five Jayhawk starters are averaging double figures in scoring (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Lagerald Vick, Udoka Azubuike, Malik Newman and Devonte’ Graham); Mykhailiuk leading the way at 18.2 points per game,  Vick and Graham are next at 15.8 ppg
  • Graham posted a career-high 35 points last time out. His 35 points were the most by a Kansas player since Andrew Wiggins dropped 41 in a loss to West Virginia in 2014.
  • Kansas is the only team that ranks in the top-five in offensive and defensive efficiency per KenPom
  • Kansas has shot 50 percent or better in five of six games this season, including two games of 60-plus percent this season. Kansas ranks fourth nationally with a 54.1 field goal percentage.
  • Graham has tallied 51 assists in his first six games of the season and is second in the Big 12, fifth nationally, with 8.5 assists per game.
  • The Jayhawks are averaging 20.0 assists per game, which ranks fifth nationally.
Orange(s?) to Watch

Tyus Battle – 6’6″ sophomore, guard

After averaging 11.3 PPG as a freshman a year ago, Battle has taken the leap forward this season. So far he’s averaging 19.7 PPG (which leads the team) in 32.2 MPG. Last time out against Maryland, Battle went for a career-high 28 points on 11-19 shooting. Battle is in the midst of three-game stretch of 20-points or more. He is Syracuse’s No. 1 threat on offense. Look for Vick or Newman to get the matchup here.

Frank Howard – 6’5″ junior, guard

Speaking of taking leaps forward, Howard has done that even more so than Battle this season. Howard averaged just 1.6 and 4.5 PPG as a freshman and sophomore. Through six games this season, he’s second on the team in scoring at 15.7, all while leading the team in assists at 6.0. The point guard matchup between Howard and Graham is an intriguing one.

Oshae Brissett – 6’8″ freshman, forward

The freshman is Syracuse’s best frontcourt player, as he is pouring in 12.8 PPG and hauling in a team-leading 9.8 RPG. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares against a player as physical and big as Udoka Azubuike.

Prediction

Kansas 87 – Syracuse 72

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Syracuse should pose more a test than Toledo or Oakland did, but that being said the Jayhawks will be too much for the Orange. Syracuse is young and inexperienced, and say what you want about Maryland, they really haven’t been tested this season. That’s not a good combination against a team like the Jayhawks. Syracuse exclusively employs a 2-3 zone on defense, that could be an advantage for the Jayhawks. KU has been scorching the nets from three-point land. They’re shooting 45% from beyond the arc this season, and over the last three games it is even higher at 51%. Kansas should be able to find some open shots within that zone.

There should be some caution though if you are a KU fan. The one time the Jayhawks played away from Allen Fieldhouse this season, they did shoot the ball very poorly. That will be something to keep your eye on in this one – if KU’s shooting prowess can travel outside of AFH.

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I’m from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I’m a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They’ll always come No.1.