Surely I wasn’t the only one who went into Tuesday night’s Syracuse-UConn game at the Garden with one real hope; that it is not half as unbearable and painful to watch as their last matchup, which finished 52-50 in favor of the Huskies. There really wasn’t much room to be worse and luckily for everyone involved, the game actually resembled a college basketball game. Even more fortunate was that it was played at a relatively high level. The Orange avenged a loss to UConn at the Mecca last season and got contributions from plenty of players.
Matthew Moyer’s Big Day
Syracuse has mostly been leaning on Tyus Battle and Frank Howard for its scoring but a new face emerged as potential offensive weapon on Tuesday. Redshirt freshman Matthew Moyer went 7-9 from the field (4-5 with 10 points in the first half) and picked up four offensive rebounds. His biggest highlight of the night was a sick tip-slam that ignited the Orange faithful in the Garden crowd.
Matt Moyer flies in for the putback!
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) December 6, 2017
Paschal Chukwu Showed Some Good… And Some Bad
Perhaps that is all Syracuse fans can and should expect of the big man. He, more often than not, does a good job anchoring the middle of the 2-3 zone but, he found himself in some foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul just five minutes into the second half. He has made significant strides forward with his greatest weakness. After shaking off a 1-17 stretch from the free throw line, Chukwu went 5-10 from the stripe against Kansas and 4-6 Tuesday against UConn. However, too many times he was a complete non-factor on offense. There were several possessions were Syracuse was essentially playing 4 v 5 because he wasn’t going to get a touch no matter how wide open he was. That is a problem and Jim Boeheim will have to figure out how to balance Chukwu’s assets and shortcomings.
Marek Dolezaj May Be Syracuse’s Secret Weapon
The Solvakian freshman did not attempt a field goal Tuesday night but he was one Syracuse’s beast and most important players. When Chukwu got in foul trouble, Boeheim seemed to turn to Dolezaj to bunker down and shut down the Huskies. In 16 minutes, he hardly filled the stat sheet, finishing with three points, two steals and three rebounds but it just felt like he kept coming up big when the Orange needed him. His play this season, particularly on defense, has to be seen as a pleasant surprise.