The Syracuse Orange went on the road for the first time this season as they faced the Kansas Jayhawks in the Hoophall Miami Invitational. The Jayhawks came into this game as the number two team in the nation, easily the best team Syracuse has faced yet. That number two ranking was on full display as Kansas delivered Syracuse their first loss of the season by a score of 76-60.
The dynamic duo of Frank Howard and Tyus Battle struggled to find their groove in the first half, but freshman Oshae Brissett was able to pick up their slack as he finally found his shot early in the ballgame (however, he got cold as time went on). Brissett’s 11-point first half kept the Orange close, but a three-point explosion from Devonte’ Graham put Syracuse in a 14-point deficit at the half. Battle and Howard combined for nine points on 3-14 shooting in the first half, as foul trouble (Howard) and cold shooting (Battle) hurt the Orange early.
Syracuse’s defense looked strong in the first half, but it got sloppy at times as Kansas was able to throw that backdoor lob that Syracuse has seen lead to easy dunks for years. The Orange were able to use their length to their advantage, but the inconsistency at contesting the perimeter led to Graham’s big first half. Syracuse controlled the glass in the first half (19-14), but the missed shots compared to Kansas’ hot shooters left Syracuse in a daunting hole.
Kansas was able to extend their lead to 20 early in the second half, but Howard and Battle decided to turn it on and cut the lead to 11 with 15:05 left. A few layups and threes from Syracuse’s backcourt was able to counter Graham’s continued hot three-point shooting. Despite the impressive comeback, it was too little too late for the Orangemen—Graham’s rhythm just wouldn’t end.
Kansas’s athleticism and hot shooting (Graham’s hot shooting) was too much to overcome for Syracuse’s second half comeback. Despite the slow starts, Battle and Howard finished with decent scoring nights: 22 and 15 respectively. Brissett struggled to keep his hot start going, but he finished with 13 points and another team high nine rebounds.
It was a valiant effort, but the inconsistent half court offense showed up in this one, leading to a deficit that was too much to overcome for the Orange. The positives were there though, as the Orange found open shots, but just couldn’t find the bottom of the net in this one.
Next up is another marquee battle as Syracuse heads to Madison Square Garden to face UCONN in the Jimmy V classic (how many overtimes this time around?).