Well, that’s a relief. After losing back to back games to UConn and Oregon at Madison Square Garden, the Orange went into Columbus and came out with a much needed victory.
For the first time all year, SU shot well from three. Actually, they were incredible, as the squad shot 11-24 from behind the arc. Before this game, SU was one of the worst teams in the country from three, shooting 23 percent. So, at least we now know that they can shoot well from deep. The next step is to do it consistently.
Besides shooting the three ball well, Jalen Carey and Elijah Hughes had solid outings. After Bourama Sidibe, Frank Howard, and Marek Dolezaj fouled out, the newcomers picked up the slack. Hughes finished the game with 18 points and 3 assists. While Carey only had four points, the freshman was electric as usual. He’s able to spread the ball around and isn’t afraid to put up a shot when needed.
Of course, the Orange also leaned on their leader, Tyus Battle. The junior finished with 20 points and had one of his most efficient games of the young season. He went 6-10 from the field and 7-8 from the line. The rest of the team combined for just 11 free throws. While he doesn’t always shoot well from the field, Battle gets to the line every game and is automatic.
As usual, the centers didn’t do a whole lot on offense. Paschal Chukwu and Sidibe combined for zero points, with Chukwu taking the only shot between the two. They aren’t even a threat to score and that needs to change. Just giving the team around 5-10 points between the two of them would be huge.
However, Chukwu did everything besides score. He played like Dolezaj from a season ago. He was hustling up and down the court, blocking shots and snagging boards. The big fella was even diving for loose balls, chasing down fastbreaks, and finding himself three rows deep in the stands. When a 7’2” center loses his goggles, you know he’s working hard.
Overall, it was a good team win. Syracuse could have played better, and it clearly has some things to clean up. Most importantly, SU is fouling too much. The Orange kept Ohio State in the game by sending them to the line. Buckeyes center Kaleb Wesson went 1-8 from the field, but he took 14 shots from the line. That’s a recipe for disaster down the road. For tonight, it worked. This was a big game to get the team back on track but there’s still areas where they need to improve.