Syracuse-Oklahoma: Breaking Down The Orange and Sooners' Sweet 16 Meeting

Hoop WritersContributor IMarch 27, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 21:  Blake Griffin #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners sets up for the free throw during their second round game against the Michigan Wolverines the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 21, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Sooners defeated the Wolverines 73-63.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Tale  of the Tape: No.3 seed Syracuse vs. No. 2 seed Oklahoma

Time: 7:27 EST

Where: FedEX Forum in Memphis, Tennessee (South Regional)

Announcers: Jim Nantz and Clark Kellog

Vegas Line:  Oklahoma is a 1-point favorite.  The over/under is 152 points.

Coaches: Jim Boeheim (SYR) and Jeff Capel (OKLA)



Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim goes for his 800th win. 

Can the  Syracuse 2-3 zone contain Blake Griffin?

Can the Syracuse guards continue to dominate? 

Can Oklahoma stop Syracuse guard Jonny Flynn?


Star watch

Blake Griffin is the most dominant player in college basketball, averaging 22.5 points and 14.4 rebounds. 

Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn may be the nation’s top point guard, averaging 17.6 points and 6.7 assists per game. 



Blake Griffin was the Big 12 Player of the Year, and freshman guard Willie Warren was the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year. 

Warren was also a member of the All-Big 12 Second Team.

Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn was a Second-Team All-Big East selection.


Record check

Syracuse has a 5-5 away record, and 7-1 record on neutral courts.  

Oklahoma has a 8-3 record away, and a 5-1 record when playing in neutral courts. 

Syracuse defeated Big 12 regular season champion Kansas 89-81 on Nov, 25 at the Sprint Center.  Oklahoma fell to Kansas  87-78 at home in Norman on Feb. 23 and finished second in the Big 12 regular-season standings.   

How they got here 

Oklahoma defeated Morgan State 82-54 and Michigan 73-63 in the first two tournament games played in Kansas, City MO.   

Syracuse defeated Stephen F. Austin 59-44 and Arizona State 78-67 in Miami, Fla. to advance to this year's Sweet 16. 


Syracuse: 28-9 overall, 11-7 Big East

Oklahoma: 29-5 overall, 13-3 in Big 12

Jonny Flynn: 17.3 ppg, 6.7 assists

Blake Griffin:  22.5 ppg, 14.4 rebounds

Eric Devendorf: 15.9 ppg, 39-percent from three

Willie Warren:  14.7 ppg, 38-percent from three

Paul Harris: 12.2 ppg,  8.1 rebounds

Taylor Griffin: 9.8 ppg, 6 rebounds

Arinze Onuaku: 10.4 ppg, 7.3 rebounds

Tony Crocker: 9.2 ppg, 35-percent from three

Andy Rautins: 10.4 ppg, 37-percent from three

Austin Johnson:  8.8 ppg, 35-percent from three



Oklahoma possesses the personnel to extend Syracuse’s zone defense with Warren, Crocker, and Johnson, and as a team, Oklahoma shoots 35-percent from beyond the arc. 

Oklahoma is also a very good rebounding team, averaging 39.3 rebounds, compared to their opponents who average 33.7 boards per contest.   

Blake Griffin has tied the Big 12 record held by Michael Beasley with 28 double-doubles.

Oklahoma averages 79.1 points-per-game, while their opponents average just 67.3.  Syracuse averages 80.4 points-per-game while giving up 71.4.

Syracuse is a potent three-point shooting team, connecting on nearly 35 percent of their long range attempts. 



Oklahoma advanced to the second round of the tournament last year before losing to Louisville 74-48 in Birmingham, Ala., finishing the season with a 23-12 record. 

Syracuse lost to UMass in the NIT Quarterfinals 81-77 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse to finish the 2007-2008 campaign 21-14.


Keys to victory

Oklahoma has the perimeter shooting necessary to extend Syracuse's zone defense and open up the middle for Blake Griffin.

Syracuse can counter on the inside with Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku.  

Both Onuaku and Jackson have been playing well in the tournament, each averaging around 12 points per game.  

The X-factor in this game is Paul Harris.  If Syracuse can get Harris involved in the offense, especially in transition, I can see Syracuse winning this game.


Prediction: Syracuse wins 81-79, and yes, this game could go into overtime.   


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