Tyus Battle was 0-6 from the field at one point, visibly frustrated with each miss. Including the exhibitions, the Orange’s leading scorer from a season ago was a combined 7-35 on the season. It wasn’t actually concerning, but it was certainly getting weird.
By the end of the first half on Saturday, Battle began to creep out of his funk. He sunk two mid-range pull-up jumpers with under three minutes until the break. He said that seeing those go down gave him confidence to start the second. Battle finished with 23 points on 7-15 shooting. Syracuse beat Morehead State 84-70 in its second game of the season. The Orange are now 2-0 on the season.
Battle has had to play a lot of point guard with the absence of Frank Howard. Jalen Carey and Howard Washington missed practice time in the weeks leading up to the season, and are both limited bench roles.
“I think the last couple games I wasn’t being aggressive enough,” Battle said, “I just tried to play my game this time.”
Battle leaked out in transition with more frequency, came off screens looking to score and ultimately found himself at the rim way more often. The one thing that is still missing is the three ball. The junior went 0-1 from deep, clearly lacking his usual confidence from that range.
Outside of Battle, the game was a tale of two halves in the turnover department. In the first half, SU had nine to Morehead State’s two. This enabled the Eagles to go 2-11 from downtown, and still trail by only six at the half. To SU’s credit, they fixed it. Syracuse finished with just two more turnovers (14) than Morehead State by the end.
Paschal Chukwu was able to take advantage of an undersized Eagles team, whose starting forwards were both 6′ 7″. He had ten rebounds, and 14 points to go along with six blocks.
Elijah Hughes didn’t have his jumpshot, but made up for it inside the arc. Hughes continues to show great promise as Syracuse’s third scoring option. He had 21.
Oshae Brissett couldn’t make it two straight games over 20, despite a stellar first half. He showed the same aggressive mentality that he did against Eastern Washington, getting to the rim with ease. This time, he didn’t capitalize when he got there, making for a 6-19 night from the field.
The negatives on the night were largely the first-year players. Buddy Boeheim played 25 minutes, but was hard to notice outside of a quick three to begin the second half. Jalen Carey had four turnovers in just 15 minutes.
“For me it’s just rhythm. I feel really close. I’m just not doing anything at 100%,” Carey said.
A long break from now until the Uconn game on Thursday will benefit Carey and the rest of the team. The offense still doesn’t look fluid in the half-court.
“We’re doing the best we can with the position we’re in. It’s like playing football without a quarterback,” Boeheim said.
Syracuse might need to start playing with a quarterback by Friday, when it could meet No. 14 Oregon at MSG. Until then, any win is a good win.