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Syracuse men’s basketball: Another career night for Maliq Brown

The Sophomore is emerging as more than a role player

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The one positive for the Syracuse Orange out of last night’s loss to the Duke Blue Devils was the career-high game of sophomore forward Maliq Brown.

Brown played 32 minutes, scoring a career-best 26 points and grabbing 7 rebounds as he more than held his own with Duke’s All-American candidate Kyle Filipowski. We’ve known about Brown’s defense and rebounding, but over the last few weeks he’s shown the ability to work into good spots and finish around the rim.

Against Duke, Brown shot 11-16 from the floor (1-2 from 3) and is now shooting 73.8% from the field on the season, 76% on 2-point attempts. Over the last five games, Brown has been in double-figure four times and he’s shooting 34-45 from the field and 7-8 from the foul line.

While many are clamoring for Adrian Autry to make changes to his starting line-up, it should be noted that Brown has played over 30 minutes in the last two games. He’s averaging over 23 minutes per game on the season, almost 10 more minutes per game than the starting center Naheem McLeod.

In addition to the uptick in scoring, Maliq has taken over the team lead in rebounding, raising his average to 5.7 boards per game to go along with 2.1 steals per game. His aggressiveness on both ends of the floor has increased and last night he was more active calling for the ball in post-up opportunities.

Brown’s emergence as an interior force is something to watch moving forward. He’s doing more than simply catching and finishing at the rim and if he can take advantage of opposing defenders doubling the high ball screen, this might be the first of many 20+ point outings.