Second-half turn around breaks SU’s two-game losing streak

Second-half turn around breaks SU's two-game losing streak

This is the Orange's first win since the Dec. 8 contest against Georgetown.
Published: December 22, 2018

After losing back-to-back home games to Old Dominion and Buffalo, the Syracuse Men’s Basketball team was able to come back and defeat Arkansas State, 82-52, after a close first half.

Syracuse struggled in the first half to sink shots, overall shooting 39 percent in field goals and 27 percent from deep, but a three from Tyus Battle gave Syracuse their first solid lead of the game. After a pair of free throws from Battle and one from Elijah Hughes, the Orange were able to end the first half with a 38-36 lead over the Red Wolves, which they would maintain for the remainder of the game.

“The whole offense was not good the first 10, 12, 15 minutes of the game,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. “Look, I’m not going to make excuses: if Frank Howard was ready from day one, we’d be a whole different time, it’s as simple as that.”

A more aggressive second-half defense forced 13 (17 total) turnovers from the Red Wolves, while the Orange only had four (eight total). The Orange were able to score 24 points alone from turnovers. Additionally, the second half saw Syracuse shooting 54 percent in field goals and 33 percent from deep, in addition to sinking 10 of 11 free throws.

“Our defense was a lot better the second half,” Boeheim said. “That gets us some transition opportunities, [but] we’ve just got to keep pushing the ball. We scored points in the second half and we had 7 or 8 open shots that we didn’t make, so you know we’re scratching the surface of what we can do.”

The usual trio ended with team-high points: Battle and Hughes with 17 each and Oshae Brissett with 15.

Syracuse, which was outrebounded in the last two contests, pulled down 37 rebounds today compared to only 30 from ASU. This gave them 18 second-chance points that they’ve certainly been lacking in the last two games.

Paschal Chukwu, the usual starting center for Syracuse, was replaced by Marek Dolezaj for the starting position today. Still, Chukwu was able to grab 13 boards, as opposed to his combined seven rebounds in the games against ODU and Buffalo.

“Paschal was a difference-maker inside,” Boeheim said. “He changed shots and blocked shots and got some rebounds and enabled us to get out.”

Brissett hit a three within seconds of the second half starting, and the Orange ended the game with a 44-16 run over the Red Wolves. Overall, Syracuse had 24 bench points — eight from Buddy Boeheim, six from Robert Braswell, four from Chukwu, and three each from Bourama Sibide and Ky Feldman.

Boeheim opened his scoring with a three after a dish from Dolezaj. Additionally, senior Ky Feldman hit a three, his first points since a December 2015 game against Montana.

The Orange will face St. Bonaventure at home on Dec. 29. The matchup against the Bonnies will be the final non-conference game before the Orange head to South Bend, Indiana for an ACC matchup against Notre Dame.