An offensive showing from the Syracuse Orange? You can believe it. The Orange’s offense finally showed up. In a “high scoring” game for a Syracuse game this year, SU managed to beat the Louisville Cardinals by a score of 78-73.
It wasn’t the defense that carried them this time, but instead it was their dynamic backcourt that had their way scoring the ball the entire night. Frank Howard (22 points) and Tyus Battle (25 points) have struggled of late, but their attacking mindset against the Cardinals changed the game.
The lack of spacing on this roster has caused both guards to be left forcing deep threes late in the shot clock, but the two guards came into this game with a different priority: get to the rim. From the tip, Howard and Battle looked to beat their man off the dribble, which allowed them to challenge the Louisville forwards down low, and the scoreboard showed who won that battle (no pun intended).
If they weren’t finishing their looks around the rim, the two guards were able to draw fouls which led to them shooting a combined 16-of-19 from the charity stripe. Their ability to get to the line provided this struggling offense some easy looks which generated confidence to shoot it from deep.
Battle struggled to find his long range touch again, but Howard was able to create some room with three made threes. Howard opened the game up with confidence, stepping into his shots and hitting them with ease. He wasn’t alone in terms of perimeter production either, as Oshae Brissett contributed with three of his own.
This team won’t be able to win games from deep, but their ability to get in the paint will help their struggling shooters find their rhythm a lot easier than forcing contested looks. Howard and Battle are among the taller guards in the country, so they truly are a problem for interior defenders when they get around the rim.
Ten of Howard’s 15 shot attempts were inside the three-point line, which is a recipe for success for the dynamic point guard. Howard becomes a lethal threat on offense when he becomes a penetrator rather than a shooter, and that showed against the Cardinals who dared him to make plays.
Battle shot 13 of his 15 shots inside the arc, which allowed for him to hit his highest percentage from the field since the Pittsburgh win. The leading scorer for the Orange has struggled to score the ball as of late, but his ability to get to the lane opened up the entire floor for the dynamic scorer.
Syracuse still has a long way to go to earn that lucrative bid to the big dance, but this was a huge road win for the Orange to add to their resume. The Orange have four top 25 teams left on their schedule, and their going to need these kind of outings out of their backcourt if they want to come away with the wins they need to be able to go dancing in March.