Preview of Syracuse Basketball vs. Oakland
By Matthew Wieselthier
Syracuse (3-0) takes on Oakland (2-1) tonight in the second campus game of the Hoophall Miami Invitational. Syracuse looks to move to 4-0 for the third straight season.
Things to Look For:
Oakland opened its season strong with wins over Fort Wayne and New Orleans, before losing its last game to Toledo. The Golden Grizzlies aren’t at 100% yet, as Oakland is missing one of its best players. Fifth-year senior Jalen Hayes was suspended for the first four games of the season due to academic ineligibility. Hayes averaged 15.9 points and 8.0 rebounds for Oakland last season.
While Oakland is missing one of its leaders, the veteran backcourt has been thriving. Without Hayes, seniors Kendrick Nunn and Martez Walker lead the Golden Grizzlies in scoring. Nunn, a transfer from Illinois, is averaging 28.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. Walker, who transferred from Texas after his freshman year, is averaging 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. Nunn, at the moment, is tied for third in the nation in scoring early in the season.
Syracuse’s bench hasn’t produced in the past few seasons, but that may change in 2017. Syracuse’s bench scored 34 points against Texas Southern, including 13 in the first half from South Florida graduate transfer Geno Thorpe. Freshman forward Marek Dolezaj showed up as well with 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Syracuse 74, Oakland 61
The Orange shouldn’t have much trouble in this game, already taking down two projected conference champions (Iona and Texas Southern) early in the season. Fans should keep an eye on fouls however, as Syracuse has struggled to stay on the court this season. Tyus Battle left the game with 9:50 left in the first half after picking up his second foul. Oshae Brissett and Bourama Sidibe have also found themselves in foul trouble early in the year. If Syracuse can avoid picking up early fouls and sending Oakland to the free throw line, it should be an easy road to the fourth win of the year.