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Frank Howard's hot first half leads the way for the Orange

It was the Frank Howard show for the first 20 minutes.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It has been clear all year long that Tyus Battle is the guy for the Syracuse Orange, but the Orange wouldn’t be anywhere near the team they are today without their true leader: Frank Howard. The junior point guard has made massive improvements this season with his more accurate shot and poised ball control leading the way for the Orange.

Howard was given the keys to the offense this season, and his performance against the Boston College Eagles showed once again why the 6’5” point guard is the right man for the job. Howard finished with an impressive 18 points to go along with his six assists, but his zero turnovers were the real difference maker in this one.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse
Frank Howard's improved shooting has given the Orange an offensive lift.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Howard’s first two seasons in orange showcased flashes of excellence, but also a pattern of inconsistency in terms of taking care of the ball. The Orange were truly in need of adding another ACC win last night, and Howard’s poise with the ball gave them the opportunity to succeed on the offensive end.

With the Eagles starting the game shooting lights out from deep (4-4 from three to start), the Orange needed to find some form of offense if they wanted to avoid a deficit becoming too large. Howard took responsibility of the offense, and led the Orange back infront by exposing the Boston College defense from the perimeter. Howard finished the first frame scoring 16 out of his 18 points, as his ability to win isolation situations gave the Orange a 10-point lead going into halftime—one that they wouldn’t give up.

The Orange need to find some perimeter shooting if they want their offense to wake up, and Howard’s ability to rise over his smaller defender gives them a viable option when he has his stoke going. Once Howard starts to make a few threes, the lane opens up for him where he can use his best asset of penetrating the lane to take advantage of opposing defenses.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse
Coach Jim Boeheim will take performances like last night's any day of the week from Frank Howard.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Howard’s six assists were just as impressive as his scoring production, because he was able to dictate the pace of the game for 38 minutes. The highlight assist for Howard on the night was his alley-oop connection with Paschal Chukwu, something the Syracuse native would love to see become a common occurrence.

Battle will always be the number one scoring option for this team, but the Orange need Howard to provide consistent scoring production if they want to find themselves dancing in March. The backcourt of Battle and Howard is truly a dangerous one when the defense has to be concerned about their perimeter game; the two guards thrive when it comes to finishing inside the lane, so any way of making their drives a bit easier is a win for coach Jim Boeheim and the Orange.

Howard has been called out for his consistency in his past, but the leader of the Orange has a chance to silence those critics with a strong finish to the season. Performances like last night’s will not only lead the Orange to the Big Dance, but it’ll make them a team no one wants to see as their first matchup.