After a wake-up call against Iona, sticking with the Syracuse Orange for almost 30 minutes in Syracuse’s second game, Saturday provided a chance to break the negative trends against a Texas Southern squad on a 13 game road trip across the USA.
Instead every trend carried over. A shaky, close start paving way to a Tyus Battle takeover in the second half. Syracuse won 80-67 but continued to turn it over at the rate of their opponent (10-10), shoot inefficiently across the roster and allow three-pointers to fall.
The opening minutes broke into a familiar start. A front-rimmed Battle floater, Matthew Moyer had his put-back blocked and Oshae Brissett cleared the rim all on one possession. Then Bourama Sidibe missed a wide open layup standing under the rim. Syracuse went down 7-2, completely empty-handed offensively.
Battle opened it up one minute later, with a wing three and after his Steph Curry-callout the other day he added two more free throws. Sidibe got redemption next, hauling in an offensive board underneath and scoring through the foul.
Texas Southern and Syracuse traded shots through the first ten, the Orange getting more creative with high-low passing from Frank Howard. Marek Dolezaj even got involved passing from the high to low post to Sidibe for an easy two.
Between seven early offensive rebounds, Howard turnovers and missed layups from point-blank range Syracuse propelled through all the indications they have given on offense this season.
Dolezaj got an offensive board that set up Geno Thorpe for three, but only after his own front-rimmed floater inside bounced back.
Down 22-21, Thorpe sparked his own breakout game and broke through the packed inside defense Texas Southern was playing with a runner after faking a pass on the drive. After a turnover by Dolezaj set up a Robert Lewis floater, Thorpe responded with a three. Eight early points on 3-of-4 shooting.
Out of the timeout he got another, as the ball swung across the top of the three-point line he drilled from the wing giving the Orange a 30-26 edge. It was Thorpe’s biggest half of the season, breaking full-court on a fast break for two more inside to give Syracuse space up eight.
Into the second Battle returned after nine minutes off with two fouls and the Orange burst forward for a 20-point lead. As with the other two games, Battle got active with a three, pair of layups and steals, then a monster baseline pullback slam at 12:18. Next possession he spotted up again from three, keeping it pouring on the Texas Southern defense.
Dolezaj continued to attack the net, getting fouled inside at 62-41, but again saw his shot rolled out as he lowered his head and clapped his hands on the baseline. He missed another inside look soon after, starting 2-of-6, while Brissett missed his first nine shot attempts. Only Battle, Sidibe and Thorpe had efficient nights at higher volumes of shots.
With the game in doubt, Texas Southern broke back within twelve. Seven-footer Trayvon Reed continued his perfect start, slamming his fifth dunk on another ally-oop before Kevin Scott nailed a corner three to get within 12 and force one of many angry Jim Boeheim timeouts to start 2017-18.
That run quickly hit a halt as Howard shook off his early struggles and hit a three and Brissett got his first shot to go inside on his 11th attempt.
Syracuse’s rebounding dominance once again paved the way to a quiet win at home, Howard received treatment late in the second half and at 3-0 the Orange still have nearly as many questions as there were when training camp opened.
The Orange will move forward to host Oakland on Monday. That games tips at 7:00 pm from the Carrier Dome.