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Syracuse’s next opponent: What to know about St. Bonaventure

first_img Published on December 27, 2018 at 5:41 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3 Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse (8-4) closes out its nonconference schedule against another in-state foe, St. Bonaventure (4-8). The Bonnies defeated the Orange in the Carrier Dome a year ago, but St. Bonaventure is a much different team than it was when it upset SU. Syracuse enters off a win over Arkansas State, while SBU has lost three in-a-row.Here’s what to know before the 2 p.m. tip off on Saturday.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 24-4Last time they played: On Dec. 22, 2017, Syracuse and St. Bonaventure played a low-scoring game into an overtime period. The Bonnies won, 60-57, in a game that hinged on a late Oshae Brissett charge call. The Orange had their usual three in double figures that day: Frank Howard, Brissett and Tyus Battle. The Bonnies were led by Jaylen Adams’ 23 points. Adams left the Bonnies last year for the NBA.The St. Bonaventure report: The Bonnies are led by 6-foot-5 senior forward, Courtney Stockard. He leads SBU in scoring, at 19.0 points per game, and with 6.5 rebounds per game. After missing the first six games of the season with an injury, Stockard’s return has made him a focal point of the Bonnies’ attack. Guards Jalen Poyser and Kyle Lofton also average double-digits and shoot well from beyond the arc. Off the bench, Nelson Kaputo will also play sizable minutes and space the floor, as he’s hit 20 3s this season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn addition to Lofton, the Bonnies’ freshman class is led by the play of 6-foot-10 Osun Osunniyi. He leads SBU with 31 blocks, almost three per game. Osunniyi splits time with another 6-foot-10 player, Amadi Ikpeze, but Ikpeze doesn’t pose as a shot-blocking threat like Osunniyi. The Bonnies shoot the 3 at 35.7 percent, above the national average per Kenpom.com, but shoot below 50 percent from 2-point range. They have a top-100 defense in the country, and four players have double-digit steals this season. Also, the Bonnies rank 79th in the nation in free-throw percentage, at 73.1 percent, which could be important if the two play another slow-it-down contest.How Syracuse beats St. Bonaventure: Finish at the rim. It won’t necessarily be an easy task, as Osunniyi is one of the nation’s top shot blockers. Even with him on the bench, Ikpeze provides another stout presence inside. And the Orange don’t always show perfection at the rim, with Brissett often failing to finish on strong drives and Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe shaky near the basket. But as SU eventually showed against Arkansas State, it has players that can break down average man-to-man defenders, which leads to looks inside. To win, the Orange will simply have to finish.In addition, the Bonnies will look to remain in the game with perimeter shooting against SU’s 2-3 zone, and the Orange will have to stop players from getting hot. Multiple mid-major guards — Cornell’s Matt Morgan, Morehead State’s Jordan Walker and Buffalo’s CJ Massinburg — kept their teams close against SU with strong 3-point shooting. Syracuse will have to be sure that Stockard, Poyser and Kaputo, among others, are held in check from deep.Stat to know: 15.1 percent – Osun Osunniyi’s block percentage, per Kenpom.com, the ratio of field-goal attempts while he’s on the floor that he blocksKenPom odds: Syracuse is given an 88 percent chance to win, by a 69-56 scorePlayer to watch: Courtney Stockard, forward, No. 11Stockard missed two full seasons with foot injuries after transferring to St. Bonaventure from a junior college. He scored 26 points in SBU’s NCAA Tournament win over UCLA last spring. The junior even helps run a non-profit organization, TruVision, with some friends from the St. Louis area. On Saturday against Syracuse, he’ll add a prolific inside-outside game that’s seen him hit multiple 3s in each of SBU’s last three games while grabbing at least six rebounds in each, as well. A year ago, he scored seven points with six rebounds and five assists in the Bonnies’ upset win. This year, he’ll be the go-to option. Commentslast_img

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