Syracuse broke its four-game losing streak with a win over Pitt Tuesday, but it wasn’t a fun one to watch. The Orange scored just 59 points, and only the Panthers’ complete disarray allowed SU to pick up a 14-point victory. It’s easy to be down on the Orange, even with a win Tuesday, but SU found bright spots out of the players which had been struggling this season.
Frank Howard was the star of the show
Howard has only been a liability in one category: turnovers. Tuesday night was a different story. Howard led the Orange with four assists and only gave the ball away once, the cleanest game he’s had since he didn’t make any turnovers against Toledo on November 22. It’s been a while, and was much-needed after averaging over five turnovers per game in the five games going into Pitt.
Howard also led the Orange in points with 18 and tallied five steals, his most since November. The point guard even pulled down seven rebounds, just one behind Paschal Chukwu for most in the game for Syracuse. Howard stepped up his game in every aspect, and it helped the Orange pull away from one of the weakest teams in the ACC when SU was stumbling.
Paschal Chukwu rebounded (literally and figuratively)
Against Florida State, Paschal Chukwu found himself on the wrong end of a battle of big men. The Seminoles’ Christ Koumadje scored 23 points and pulled down six offensive rebounds to help FSU take down SU in double overtime. The Seminoles pulled down 23 offensive boards as a team, and the middle of the zone was to blame. Against Pitt, Chukwu turned in a better performance.
The Panthers’ don’t a 7-4 body like Koumadje to challenge Chukwu, but the Orange center held Terrell Brown and Kene Chukwuka to a combined 13 points and 12 rebounds. Chukwu put eight points and eight boards on his own. He also went 2-2 from the free throw line, bringing his season percentage up to 63.6 percent. Florida State was a disaster for Syracuse’s rebounders and inside defenders, but the biggest of them found a way to get back on the horse without a hitch.
Bench players are getting more minutes
For the second straight game, Orange fans saw Howard Washington play for more than two minutes (something he hadn’t done in the four games prior). Jim Boeheim gave Washington six minutes on the floor, while Marek Dolezaj outplayed Matthew Moyer. Bourama Sidibe logged nine minutes, good for second-most since returning from the injury which left him out the better part of a month.
There were only two bench points to come out of that playing time, but more minutes for the bench means less tired stars at the end of the game. Tyus Battle finally got three minutes of a break for after 129 minutes in his last three games. Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett still played all 40 minutes, but at least Boeheim is easing his way into his bench more than what we had seen. If Boeheim does start trusting another player or two, the options start opening up for the Hall of Fame coach.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson