Syracuse has two capable guards in senior Joe Girard and freshman Judah Mintz, but everything the Orange do these days revolves around center Jesse Edwards.
Edwards looks to continue his stellar season Tuesday when Syracuse (4-4) hosts struggling Oakland (2-8) in a nonconference tilt.
Coming off a 22 point, 14-rebound effort in a one-point win at Notre Dame, Edwards enters this contest averaging 14.8 points and 11.6 rebounds. He has been particularly dominant on the glass in his last three games, averaging 17.3 boards over that stretch. And the Netherlands native is shooting a crisp 62 percent from the field this season.
“We feel like Jesse’s the best big in the country,” Mintz said after hitting the decisive jumper against the Fighting Irish. “So whenever he has a mismatch, we’re gonna feed him. … He opens up everything for us. He gets us driving lanes, gets us easy shots. Having a big like Jesse makes everything easy.”
“Obviously Jesse is playing at a high level right now,” added longtime Orange coach Jim Boeheim, who uses the 6-foot-11 Edwards in the middle of his patented 2-3 zone.
Edwards, along with Mintz (14.4 points) and Girard (14.3) could prove a difficult trio for the Oakland defense.
The Golden Grizzlies have only one victory against a Division I foe this season — and that was a two-point overtime triumph over Eastern Michigan. Most recently, they suffered a 79-73 OT defeat at Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday.
Keaton Hervey contributed 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Rocket Watts had 20 points. Oakland allowed the Mastodons to shoot under 40 percent from the field and just 27.5 percent from 3-point range.
“This is the first time this year we have executed a defensive game plan,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “We did not execute the offensive game plan very well. That’s on me. We will.”
However, things don’t get any easier for the Golden Grizzlies, who visit Boise State and Michigan State after playing Syracuse to complete a five-game road trip.
The Orange have won all four previous meetings with Oakland, defeating the Grizzlies by 20, 32, 24 and 12 points.
–Field Level Media