Syracuse got the win on Saturday that it so desperately needed. Sure, the 62-55 win over Miami isn’t going to get the Orange to the tournament on its own, but it could be the start of something special. The game against the Hurricanes showed us many things about SU that we didn’t know going in. Here’s a closer look at a few.
-Getting it done with a below average Tyus Battle
“Battle is the key for this team. As he goes, they go,” said every national college basketball analyst ever. Well, that wasn’t the case on Saturday. Battle was just 4-for-14 from the field. However, one of those field goals was such a big three-pointer that CBS analyst Bill Raftery broke out his trademarked “ONIONS!” call. Over the course of the game, Battle wasn’t the main force behind Syracuse’s effective play. So how did SU do it? Others stepped up in a big way. Other than Battle, every Syracuse player made nearly half of their shots. Anyone who has watched the Orange at all this season knows just how surprising that is. Usually when Battle has an off game, the Orange doesn’t have a chance. That wasn’t the case in Coral Gables.
-The Orange’s tournament chances have a pulse
Like many others, I thought a loss at Miami would have ended SU’s chance at making the NCAA tournament. That didn’t happen. The Orange now puts itself in a pretty good spot to sneak into the big dance. Over the next four games, SU faces North Carolina, Duke, Boston College and Clemson. Considering BC is on the road, the Orange will likely be underdogs in each of those games. Even with that, winning three of the next four games, combined with Syracuse’s first ever ACC tournament win, would make the Orange’s resume respectable. Syracuse showed us on Saturday that with its backs fully pinned against the wall, it can come up big. They’ll need to continue to do that over the next couple of weeks.
-Marek Dolezaj keeps getting better
This guy is fun to watch. After a great start to the season, Dolezaj cooled off significantly in ACC play. With Moyer battling an injury, Dolezaj has played big minutes over the past few weeks and has looked great doing it. The Slovakian was 4-for-5 (career-high 11 points) from the field and seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. Just take this beautiful rebound and feed as an example:
Syracuse's Marek Dolezaj with the behind the back pass to Oshae Brissett for the lay in, giving the Orangemen a 45-43 lead over Miami with 8:39 to play in the second half. https://t.co/2yG2uZgszk
— NCAAHoops247 (@NCAAHoops247) February 17, 2018
Finally, any article about the Miami game that doesn’t mention Oshae Brissett is a bad one. The dude was awesome, recording a double-double (16pts, 12rbs) for the second time in three games. This comes as no surprise, as the Canadian has been fairly consistent for the Orange all season long.
Now we just have to wait and see if these trends hold up as the season winds down.