After every Syracuse fan finished biting each and every nail off for the final 15 minutes of this game, the Syracuse Orange managed to find a way to pull off the 81-74 win over the Buffalo Bulls. The Orange were led by Oshae Brissett who went 16-of-16 from the free throw line which helped him tie his career-high 25 points.
Syracuse let this one get too close in the second half with sloppy turnovers and lackadaisical defense, but the big-time players made the right plays when it mattered most to help the Orange escape a loss and move to 10-1.
Matthew Moyer: The X Factor?
The main worry for the Orange in their first few games was Matthew Moyer’s inability to find a rhythm in coach Jim Boeheim’s offense. We knew he was a dynamic player that can impact a game in a number of ways, but finding his place on this team was a challenge to start the year.
Well, if you’ve only watched the Orange play the past two weeks, you would think of Moyer as the go-to guy on this team — that showed again tonight (12 points and nine rebounds). Moyer’s tenacity was on full display once again, as he crashed the glass for a game high nine rebounds. His ability to find the tiny holes in the defense allowed him to get easy looks around the rim, somewhere he operates perfectly on this team.
Moyer isn’t going to lead the Orange in scoring every night, but his ability to do the little things with his hustle and effort is going to help put this team over the top.
The small ball Syracuse Orange
The Bulls sent out four guards to start the game, an interesting look to use against the dominant length and size that Syracuse showcases. The Orange have been winning games based on their rebounding advantage, but this game proved that they are able to win with a small ball lineup inserted here and there.
We saw a little bit of action with the three guards of Frank Howard, Tyus Battle, and Howard Washington (the Buffalo native), which allowed Syracuse to space the floor and use their quickness to their advantage. Don’t get me wrong, the Orange will rely on their size advantage to take them as far as they will go, but it is good to know that this team has the capable personnel to adapt to the “new” style of basketball if they need to.
Ball pressure hurts this team — a lot
This game got pretty scary in the second half as the Bulls made a monster comeback to even take the lead at a few moments. There ball pressure tortured the Syracuse guards, primarily Howard who got his pocket stolen quite a few times on his way to a team high five turnovers.
Howard has shown great strides this year thus far, but the Orange need a guard who they can trust will get the ball over half court the majority, if not all of the time—and Howard needs to be that guy. The loose handles led the Bulls back into the game, but Syracuse was able to hold on in large part to Brissett’s perfect 16-16 night from the free throw line.
This will be a game to forget in terms of turnovers for Howard, but the improvement taking care of the ball needs to happen now if the Orange want to compete in ACC play.