No. 22 Syracuse looks to rebound against North Florida

BY foxsports • December 2, 2016

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Of all the things that have angered Syracuse Orange coach Jim Boeheim over the last two games, rebounding stands out.

In losing by a combined 31 points to No. 20 South Carolina and No. 17 Wisconsin in the last week, the No. 22 Orange were outrebounded 77-55.

Against the Badgers on Tuesday, Syracuse held a 16-15 rebounding edge at halftime but was outrebounded 25-9 in the second half of a 77-60 loss in an ACC-Big Ten Challenge game at the Kohl Center.

"They got on the boards and we didn't," Boeheim said. "It's not very technical."

So rebounding will be the primary point of emphasis for Syracuse when the Orange (4-2) host the North Florida Ospreys (3-6) on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.

The Atlantic Sun Conference-member Ospreys employ a three-guard system, but two of their starting guards are 6-foot-5 (Aaron Bodager and Nick Malonga) and they also start a 6-8 forward (Chris Davenport) and 6-11 center (Romelo Banks).

North Florida has outrebounded its opponents by an average of 39.6-34.3 this season, and the Ospreys held their own on the boards in a 91-60 loss to No. 24 Florida last Thursday as they trailed only 32-29 in rebounds.

Syracuse is outrebounding its opponents 40-35.3 per game this season, but that's mainly because the Orange's first four games were against Colgate, Holy Cross, Monmouth and South Carolina State.

Syracuse needs more rebounding production out of senior forward Tyler Roberson, who averaged 8.5 boards per game last year but is at 5.7 this year, and the Orange guards in their 2-3 zone defense need to grab more of the longer rebounds.

Rebounding wasn't the only issue for Syracuse against South Carolina and Wisconsin. After shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and 45.7 percent from 3-point range in their first four games, the Orange shot 41.5 and 27.8 against the Gamecocks and Badgers.

And defensively, South Carolina and especially Wisconsin sliced up Syracuse's zone as the Orange's six new players continue to learn the nuances of the defense. Wisconsin shot 49.2 percent from the field and went 11-for-23 (47.8 percent) from 3-point range after making just 31 percent of its 3-point shots in its first seven games.

"We didn't cover areas that we have to cover," Boeheim said. "And they made pretty easy shots, pretty wide open shots."

Under coach Matthew Driscoll, the Ospreys haven't shied away from scheduling Power Five conference teams as they've already played (and lost to) Auburn, Miami, LSU and Florida this season with Syracuse, Arkansas and Connecticut to follow.

Against Florida, Ospreys senior guard and NBA prospect Dallas Moore scored a game-high 31 points on 12-for-21 shooting (including 6-for-12 from beyond the arc), but it wasn't nearly enough as the Gators' bench outscored North Florida's bench 51-16.

"Dallas was obviously one of the best players on the floor and that's why the NBA scouts were here (Thursday night)," Driscoll said. "Dallas is a special talent and I don't know if we will have another one around here like him. I hope we do because it makes my job easier for sure."

Moore, the Atlantic Sun ConferencePreseason Player of the Year, leads the Ospreys in scoring at 20.4 points per game and is second in assists with 26. Banks is averaging 10.4 points per game and a team-high 6.1 rebounds per contest.

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