The quick turnaround between the West Virginia and tonight's contest against Syracuse has kind of robbed me of the opportunity to engage in the usual pre and post game stuff. For instance the box scorin post from the West Virginia game was started but never finished and I didn't get around to taking a serious look at Cuse until now, basically. Im a regular paragon of the virtue of procrastination. So for the five* or so of you who enjoy the stat heavy wrap ups and previews I am sorry to disappoint. But the regularly scheduled three keys will go ahead as planned. Right now in fact.
*Thats a rough estimate, could very well be much lower
Yancy Gates Must Dominate
The loss of Fab Melo has left a massive hole in the center of Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone. Jack Cooley, who is similarly sized but not nearly as athletic as Yancy, dominated the interior of the Cuse defense with 17 points on 62 per cent shooting and got to the line 10 times. Oh and for good measure he pulled down 10 boards including 6 offensive. Yancy Gates will outweigh everyone Cuse throws at him by at least 40 pounds and will obviously have a massive advantage in terms of strength. In the last five games Gates has averaged 11.4 points and 9.6 rebounds. He needs to surpass both of those numbers.
Outsized Contributions From Role Players
In a game against Syracuse, who have a clear edge in depth it is vital that the Bearcats get good, productive minutes from the three guys who will be spelling the starters. You can lump Justin Jackson in with this group as well. Jaquon Parker, Cheikh Mbodj and Jeremiah Davis have to play big roles in this one, particularly the bigs. That obviously means no stupid fouls for Jacksona and Mbodj who never lay off a play, even when it is in their best interests. All four of those guys have to bring it tonight.
Win In Transition
Syracuse and Cincinnati are two very different teams in terms of how they play defense. But the way that both squads convert turnovers and missed shots into buckets on the other end in a heartbeat is eerily similar. I would expect the Bearcats to enforce a slower pace on the game because it is in their best interests. Syracuse is a damn good team offensively so giving them 60 looks is a recipe for disaster. A slower pace will (hopefully) keep their attempts in the 50 to 55 range, 50 obviously being superior to 55. But it is vital that UC not pass up chances to run when they are there.
Those are my keys, what are yours? Drop a comment down below