It was an ugly start for the Syracuse Orange, as they trailed 24-15 with 10:07 left in the first half, but the Orange separated themselves in the second half and came away with the 82-52 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves. The Orange showcased a new starting five in this one, but it was the typical scorers who helped Syracuse move to 8-4 on the season.
Good things happen when this team runs
The Orange looked to be in some trouble early on in the game, as their offense remained stagnant and shots weren’t falling. Elijah Hughes got Syracuse back in the game with a few threes, but it was the Orange’s ability to get out in transition that helped them take control of the ball-game.
Syracuse started to get some stops, and instead of slowing down the pace to set up in the half court, the Orange got out in transition and ran—success followed. Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett started to get in a rhythm with some easy shots inside, and with Paschal Chukwu owning the paint on defense, it seemed like Syracuse had endless opportunities to score on the break in the second half. The offense still needs some work in terms of consistency, but it’s time for this team to realize that they have the athletes to score in transition—like they showed today.
The Marek Dolezaj center experiment didn’t last very long
After two straight losses, a lineup change was on the table for the Orange, and coach Jim Boeheim went through with one at the tip. Marek Dolezaj replaced Chukwu in the starting lineup, but it didn’t last very long. Dolezaj made some really nice plays off of the pass early, including a nice backdoor feed that led to a Hughes dunk, but his lack of height compared to Chukwu was hurting the Orange on the glass—insert the 7’2” senior.
Chukwu’s size quickly erased the Red Wolves’ rebounding advantage, as Arkansas State had no answer for Syracuse’s 7’2” big-man inside. The Orange should still give Dolezaj opportunities at the five due to his versatility and ability to find the open man, but today it was all about Chukwu’s response to losing his spot in the starting five.
Paschal Chukwu began his 6-Man of the Year campaign!
His stat line may not have had the most eye-popping numbers for the Orange, but Paschal Chuwku’s play on both ends of the floor helped the Orange separate themselves from the Red Wolves. Chukwu finished with four points, 13 rebounds (six offensive!), and two blocks in 23-minutes of play off the bench.
Chukwu’s ability to keep plays alive on the offensive end, and his ability to make it hard for the Red Wolves to score inside helped ease the fans in attendance’s nerves while the Orange were climbing back. He may have lost his starting spot today, but the 6-man version of Chukwu unleashed the aggressive playstyle we’ve been waiting for out of the 7’2” big-man all year long