Well, I guess it was worth all the “experts” getting their predictions wrong for a win like that. The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team shocked the nation with a road win against the No. 1-ranked Duke Blue Devils, 95-91 in overtime, as Tyus Battle was the hero once again, and Paschal Chukwu played like the 7’2” big man he is.
Sure, that game may have taken a few years off of our lives, but the Orange are leaving Cameron Indoor Stadium with a huge win. Syracuse needed to play near perfect basketball to have this outcome come true, and it even took a three-fourths of the court shot from Elijah Hughes to help the Orange move to 12-5 on the season (and 3-1 in the ACC).
Tyus Battle is the hero we all deserve
From the Clemson buzzer beater, to this season’s game winner against Georgetown, Battle has had his fair share of heroic performances for Syracuse in his career. However, tonight is going right up there in his, dare I say, historic career, as his 32 points carried the Orange to the victory.
Battle was able to use the backboard to his advantage with some crafty finishes inside, but it was his classic pull up jumpers that decided this game. His ability to change direction while going downhill makes Battle extremely hard to stop, and when he stops on a dime and pulls up, there isn’t much the opposing defense can do. The great part about this game is that even after a performance like this one, we know there’s more, and even better, performances to come for Syracuse’s leading scorer.
Paschal Chukwu proved that he is 7’2”
Chukwu has struggled so far this season, but the big man came through in the biggest way possible with 10 points, 18 rebounds, and three blocks against Duke. His size in the middle of the zone tamed Duke’s offensive rebounding, as he was able to limit R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson to just six offensive rebounds.
Chukwu isn’t the best matchup against some of the teams the Orange are going to face, but tonight Syracuse needed a big man who was going to step up, and they got their 7’2” center to play with all the height he possesses tonight. He may have shot just 4-8 from the free throw line, but those four makes were crucial and needed for the Orange to regain momentum during Duke’s runs.
Frank Howard is back!
Sure, maybe one big game is a bit of an overreaction, but Syracuse’s senior point guard played his best basketball of the season in this one, and the Orange desperately needed it. Howard finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists, as he picked apart the Duke defense with his pull up jumper.
Howard has looked a step slow ever since he came back from injury, but he looked quick in this one and was able to beat his defender off the dribble tonight. When the Orange have Howard, Battle, and Oshae Brissett successfully attacking the rim, they are hard to beat, and tonight, Howard finally played like the player we know he is, and look what it led to: a win over the number one team in the country.