So far, so good for Syracuse men’s basketball.
The expectations around the Orange were almost non-existent this year following a snub from the NCAA Tournament and a mass exodus of talent. But SU has taken care of business out of the gate and moved to 3-0 with an 80-67 win over Texas Southern Saturday night in the Carrier Dome.
The final score makes it seem a bit closer than it really was — after a tight first half, Jim Boeheim’s bunch opened the second with a 15-0 run and cruised from there.
Let’s hand out some awards from the victory.
Alpha Dog Award: Tyus Battle
Last time we handed out awards after a game, Tyus Battle got the Dennis Green Award (He Is Who We Thought He Was) because the sophomore truly seemed ready to carry the load as Syracuse’s go-to guy. Nothing has changed since then; in fact, Battle has only solidified his standing as the Orange’s unquestioned leader.
Battle poured in an efficient 21 points (6-of-10 from the field), continuing his remarkable stretch of consistency to open the season. Here are his point totals from the team’s first five outings (two exhibitions and three regular-season games): 20, 20, 18, 28, 21.
“Before every game, I just visualize the game,” Battle said. “Visualize me making shots, me being aggressive. And that’s what I’ve always learned to do. That’s what my dad taught me: just visualize myself being out there before I even step on the court.”
If Battle continues to light it up on a nightly basis, he won’t just lock up the title of Syracuse’s best player — he’ll be in contention for the title of the ACC’s best player.
Welcome to the Party Award: Geno Thorpe
Jim Boeheim’s assessment of Thorpe’s performance against Iona (“he was terrible”) was pretty spot-on. Through two games, the South Florida transfer had provided Syracuse fans very little reason to believe he could contribute this season. Thorpe scored a combined 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting in his first two games with SU.
But maybe Thorpe just arrived fashionably late. He knocked down five of his six first-half shots (including three from beyond the arc) and piled up 13 points before the break. On a team that lost six of its top seven scorers from last season, Thorpe’s sharpshooting isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity.
“Geno made some really good plays, almost on his own,” Jim Boeheim said. “He kept us in there in the first half.”
eHarmony Award: Paschal Chukwu
Chukwu finally met his match Saturday at the block S. For the first (and probably last) time this season, the SU center could see eye-to-eye with his opponent in the tip-off.
Texas Southern’s Trayvon Reed — probably not the evil twin brother of former Miami standout Davon Reed — also stands at 7-foot-2. Shocker here: Chukwu, who loses jump balls to guys who are six inches shorter than he is, did not win the tip.
Just the tip, Paschal. All we want is just the tip.
UP NEXT: Syracuse gets a day off before returning to the Carrier Dome for the second game of the HoopHall Miami Invitational (yes, that sentence is correct, and no, I don’t know why they play the Miami invitational in Central New York). The Orange hosts 2-1 Oakland Monday night. Follow the Fizz on Twitter (@OrangeFizz) for updates throughout the game.