After halting an opening 7-2 run by Oakland, Syracuse put together its best half of basketball of the season en route to a 74-50 win over the Golden Grizzlies.
Syracuse used an 18-5 run to take command of the game, largely because of its hustle across the board. The Orange forced nine first half steals, 12 total in the game, and dominated on the glass to the tune of an 15 rebound edge on the boards. Paschal Chukwu was all over the place defensively, Oshae Brissett joined him with three steals and Marek Dolezaj contributed as well with eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals. So in honor of Dolejaz’s efforts, let’s breakdown this game in a way that isn’t as foreign to him. It’s time for hockey-style three stars.
First Star: Tyus Battle
If it wasn’t already apparent, Battle is going to be a first round pick in the upcoming draft. He scored an efficient 25 points and was all over the floor on defense as well. He says he’s trying to bring a tenacity to this team that mirrors his basketball idol Kobe Bryant, and boy has he shown it so far. Battle has yet to be held under 18 points, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. He absolutely TOYED with defenders in the first half and made the game look way too easy. Battle gets the first star, it’s not his first of the season, and certainly won’t be his last.
Second Star: Paschal Chukwu
This is the flat out best game Chukwu has ever played. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field for 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. Chukwu also swatted eight shots. He looked comfortable, coordinated and used his size to his advantage (aside from losing yet another jump ball). Jim Boeheim says it helps that he is finally getting game experience because he hasn’t really gotten any over the last three years. If Chukwu can stay consistent on the glass and altering shots, then this team will open some eyes.
Third Star: Frank Howard
Howard had a career-high 18 points which complemented his six assists. But the most impressive stat from the point guard was his two turnovers. For a guy looking to take the next step in his progression, that is the missing piece. Howard looks confident and in control on offense. Him and Battle have a clear chemistry at the top of the zone and Boeheim seems to be content with how his defense has played thus far. At the beginning of the year, knowing that Howard and Battle would have to lead this team was a scary proposition. Now, it’s looking like it could pay off.