Freshly Squeezed (12/24)

Syracuse Splits a Pair Ahead of Christmas Break

tbub
The Edwardsville Intelligencer

After being upset by Old Dominion, the Syracuse Orange looked to bounce back with home games against #14 Buffalo and Arkansas State.

Syracuse raced out to a 36-32 halftime advantage over Buffalo. The Bulls were not ready to relinquish their undefeated record and came back to take a 50-48 lead on a three by Jeremy Harris with 9:48 remaining. Jalen Carey responded with a layup to knot the score at 50. CJ Massinburg drained a triple and Tyus Battle connected on a trey of his own to bring the contest to a 53-53 stalemate with 8:12 left to play. Buffalo pulled away with a 14-4 run and went on to win 71-59, extending the Orange’s losing streak to two games.

Syracuse held the Bulls to 37.1-percent shooting and shot 42.1-percent themselves. It was a sloppy game as both teams turned the ball over 16 times. The difference in the game was that Buffalo drained 10 three-pointers, compared to just six for the Orange. The Bulls were 15-of-20 from the charity stripe, while the Orange converted on just 5-of-13 of their free throw attempts. For a team that struggles to score, shooting an ACC-worst of 69-percent from the stripe is a statistic that Syracuse must improve going forward.

Massinburg led Buffalo with 25 points, on 8-of-16 from the field, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, eight rebounds, and five assists.

Elijah Hughes led the Orange with 16 points and four rebounds. Frank Howard added a season-high 13 points on 5-of-13 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from three point land, and four rebounds. Battle tallied 11 points, while Oshae Brissett posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Brissett also dished out four assists in the losing effort.

Syracuse looked to get back on the right track when they hosted Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon. The Orange looked as though they had lost all confidence and the Red Wolves came out firing on all cylinders. Arkansas State took an 11-point lead (26-15) thanks to a pair of free throws by JJ Matthews with 9:32 to go in the opening stanza. Syracuse used a 20-7 spurt to take a 38-36 lead into the break. The Orange went on a 15-3 run out of intermission to distance themselves from the Red Wolves for good. Syracuse went on to score a much needed 82-52 victory.

The Orange shot 47.1-percent from the field and held Arkansas State to a 34.6-percent clip. Syracuse outrebounded the Red Wolves 37-30. The Orange forced 17 turnovers and only gave it up eight times. Syracuse connected on 27-of-33 of their attempts from the free throw line—a trend that needs to continue to improve moving forward.

Ty Cockfield led Arkansas State with 17 points, on 5-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-10 from deep, three rebounds, and five assists.

Hughes and Battle poured in 17 points apiece to pace the Orange. Hughes grabbed six rebounds and distributed three assists. Brissett finished with 15 points, on 5-of-10 from the field, and nine boards.

Marek Dolezaj earned the start over Paschal Chukwu who had struggled to rebound in the center of the zone in losses to Old Dominion and Buffalo. Chukwu responded and scored four points and corralled 13 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench in the win over the Red Wolves.

Syracuse was without freshman guard Jalen Carey against Arkansas State as he was out nursing a hip-pointer. Buddy Boeheim stepped up with eight points in 18 minutes off the bench in Carey’s absence.

Player of the Week: Elijah Hughes

ehasu
Syracuse University Athletics

This week’s player of the week for the Orange was Elijah Hughes. Hughes averaged 16.5 points, on 44.4-percent shooting, and five rebounds. The East Carolina-transfer has added a secondary scoring punch to Tyus Battle and will need to continue to play Robin as Syracuse enters ACC play next week.

Up Next: St. Bonaventure

The Orange (8-4) will return to action following Christmas break when they close out their non-conference slate against St. Bonaventure in a Saturday matinee. Tip-off is set for 2pm. Syracuse will look to avenge last year’s 60-57 overtime loss to the Bonnies. St. Bonaventure is 4-8 and is coming off a 64-59 loss to Northeastern on Friday. The Bonnies are led by Courtney Stockard who is averaging 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per contest.

Freshly Squeezed (12/17)

Syracuse Stunned by Old Dominion

jbsadodu
syracuse.com

Syracuse, who was riding a five game win streak, fell victim to an upset at the hands of the Old Dominion Monarchs.

The Orange used a 12-2 run to build a 33-23 advantage at the break. Old Dominion rallied throughout the second stanza and took a 59-54 lead with 2:47 left on a layup by Xavier Green to close out an 8-1 spurt. The Monarchs would not relinquish their lead and escaped the Carrier Dome with a 68-62 upset win over #25 Syracuse.

It was a tale of two halves as the Orange connected on 39.1-percent of their attempts from the field and held Old Dominion to 34.8-percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. The Monarchs bounced back in the second half and ran away as they shot a blistering 55.6-percent from the floor and held Syracuse to a disappointing 28-percent clip down the stretch.

BJ Stith led Old Dominion’s comeback as he scored all of his 18 points after intermission.

Tyus Battle paced the Orange with 23 points on 5-of-14 shooting, 2-of-6 from three, and 11-of-15 from the charity stripe. Elijah Hughes added 15 points on 4-of-9 from the field and four rebounds.

The Monarchs exposed a lot of Syracuse’s glaring weaknesses, specifically, with Old Dominion out-rebounding the Orange 38-33. Syracuse struggles from the field and relies on getting to the free throw line as part of their offense. The Orange shot a dreadful 22-for-34 from the stripe. If Syracuse continues to struggle from the field, they cannot afford to miss opportunities at the foul line.

Syracuse now has three non-conference losses and faltering against the Monarchs means that the Orange will likely enter the ACC slate closer to the “bubble” than expected in the offseason. Syracuse is desperate for a victory over #14 Buffalo in the Dome on Tuesday night.

Player of the Week: Tyus Battle

tbsadodu
syracuse.com

Tyus Battle was unable to carry his team to victory against Old Dominion on Saturday, but he has now scored 20+ points in six of the Orange’s ten games. Battle will need his teammates to step up if Syracuse plans to get back on the right track on Tuesday night against Buffalo.

Up Next: #14 Buffalo and Arkansas State

The Orange host #14 Buffalo on Tuesday night. Tip-off is set for 8pm. The Bulls are 10-0 and have climbed to fourteenth in the country. Buffalo is coming off a 73-65 win over Southern Illinois Saturday night. The Bulls are led by CJ Massinburg who is averaging 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. Last year, Syracuse beat Buffalo 81-74.

After taking on the Bulls, the Orange will square off against Arkansas State Saturday afternoon at 2pm. The Red Wolves are 4-6 and are coming off a 75-71 victory over Florida Atlantic on Friday night. Arkansas State is led by Ty Cockfield who is averaging 22.6 points, 3.8 points, and 2.9 assists per game.

A November to Remember

The college basketball season is off and running. What have we learned so far?

rui
Moscow-Pullman Daily News

As the calendar turns to December, teams are entering the second month of their seasons looking to take advantage of their last few opportunities to grab wins in the nonconference portion of the schedule before 2019 and conference play commences.

The month of November was a wild one from the tip. From Duke blowing out Kentucky on opening night through Feast Week, we’ve seen some marquee matchups, upsets, surprises, and teams that look like they have a legitimate chance of cutting down the nets in Minneapolis in early April.

The four most impressive teams thus far are Gonzaga, Kansas, Virginia, and Michigan.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Although Duke came roaring out of the gate, the young Blue Devils got punched in the mouth in the championship game of the Maui Invitational by the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga held on to beat Duke 89-87 in college basketball’s most intriguing matchup thus far this season. The Bulldogs ran through the Maui Invitational without forward Killian Tillie, who is out for the foreseeable future with an ankle injury. Mark Few’s team is deep and talented—led by junior Rui Hachimura, who has been a beast. The Japan native has NBA scouts drooling and is averaging 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Even without Tillie, Gonzaga is still incredibly deep and talented. Zach Norvell Jr., Brandon Clarke, and Josh Perkins are all averaging double figures. The top ranked Zags still have nonconference games against Creighton, Washington, Tennessee, and North Carolina, but if they can make it through those contests unscathed, they may just be dancing with an unblemished mark in March.

Kansas Jayhawks

lgv
The Edwardsville Intelligencer

The Kansas Jayhawks entered most preseason polls as the number team in the country, but for some reason are now ranked second even though they have yet to lose a game. Duke leapfrogged Kansas after their throttling of Kentucky on opening night in Indianapolis and Gonzaga did the same after beating Duke in Maui. Kansas looks every bit as good as they were expected to be in the preseason. The Jayhawks defeated fifth ranked Tennessee in the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament championship game in Brooklyn, 87-81 in overtime. After almost not being welcomed back to the roster by Bill Self, Lagerald Vick has played with a chip on his shoulder to begin the season. The senior guard is leading the team in scoring with 19.6 points per game behind 58.3-percent shooting from three point land. Memphis-transfer Dedric Lawson is averaging a double-double, while Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson are also averaging double figures in scoring. Prior to entering Big Twelve play in search of their fifteenth consecutive regular season conference title, Kansas has matchups with Stanford, Villanova, and Arizona State. At this rate, it would be pretty shocking if anyone were to derail the Jayhawks hopes of another league title.

Virginia Cavaliers

dah
SB Nation

After being the first one seed to lose to a sixteen seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers have bounced back with a vengeance to start their 2018-19 campaign. Just as it has been over the course of Tony Bennett’s tenure in Charlottesville, defense has been the key to Virginia’s early success. The fourth ranked Cavaliers are second in defensive efficiency and have held opponents to a mere 52.4 points per game. The main reason why the Hoos were bounced by UMBC in the first round of the “Big Dance” a year ago was that they were without their best player De’Andre Hunter in that game. Hunter is back and is leading the team in points (16.6) and rebounds (6.1) per game. Freshman point guard Kehei Clark has nearly a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio, which has allowed sharp shooters, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy, to get open looks off the ball. The Cavaliers defeated Wisconsin 53-46 in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis and traveled to College Park to defeat Maryland 76-71 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Virginia has a date at South Carolina on December 19, and it is very likely that they will enter ACC play undefeated. With Hunter being more of a focal point on this year’s team, this may be the year that Bennett finally makes it to the Final Four.

Michigan Wolverines

iggy
Deadspin

The reigning National Runners-Up from Michigan are back and look like one of the most impressive teams in the country. John Beilein’s team has climbed to number seven in the polls behind a tremendous defensive effort. The Wolverines are the top team in defensive efficiency and are hold opponents to just 51 points per contest. Michigan is led by freshman forward Iggy Brazdeikis who is averaging 16.9 points, on 54.9-percent shooting and 38.9-percent from three, and 5.7 rebounds per game. Charles Matthews and Jordan “Swaggy” Poole have chipped in and are averaging 15.4 and 10.1 points per game, respectively. The Wolverines have absolutely dominated their competition, winning by an average margin of 21.7 points on their way to a 7-0 start. Michigan avenged their loss in last year’s National Championship game with a 73-46 whooping of defending National Champion and then number eight Villanova. The Wolverines knocked off Providence, 66-47, in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. Most recently, Michigan pummeled number eleven North Carolina, 84-67, in front of a raucous home crowd in Ann Arbor in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Wolverines begin Big Ten play this weekend when they battle with number 19 Purdue on Saturday. As it looks right now, Michigan is good enough to be right back where they were last March, with hopes of getting one more win in 2019.

Bracket Busters: Buffalo and Furman

It’s never too early to pay attention to the teams from the one-bid leagues that are making noise in the nonconference portion of the schedule because that could be the difference between winning and losing your office March Madness pool. Two teams to keep an eye on this year are Buffalo and Furman.

Buffalo Bulls

cj
The Buffalo News

The Buffalo Bulls are no stranger to being “Bracket Busters,” as last year they eliminated number overall pick Deandre Ayton and the Arizona Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Buffalo is off to a 6-0 start this season and have climbed to number 21 in the polls, largely in part to their 99-94 overtime win over then number thirteen West Virginia in Morgantown. Senior guard CJ Massinburg is averaging 20.5 points per game, on 51.9-percent from the field and 51.5-percent from deep, and 7.8 rebounds per game. Massinburg, along with Jayvon Graves, Nick Perkins, and Jeremy Harris, will look to have the Bulls dancing into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament this year.

Furman Paladins

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Zagsblog

Can you name a school that has beaten half of last year’s Final Four on the road this season? Probably not. The correct answer to that question would be the Furman Paladins. Furman blessed the “Fighting Sister Jeans” with a 60-58 win in Chicago and followed that up with a 76-68 upset of then number eight Villanova. The Paladins of the SoCon are 7-0 and will look to pull off another upset on the road when they take on LSU in Baton Rouge on December 21. Jordan Lyons, Matt Rafferty, and Clay Mounce hope to lead Furman to the “Big Dance” for the first time since 1980.

Keep your eyes glued to the tube as we propel our way through the remainder of the nonconference slate and into conference play in December.

Eastern Michigan at Syracuse

Syracuse Pulls Away from Eastern Michigan to Close out Non-Conference Play

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It was a tale of two halves, but Syracuse pulled away from Eastern Michigan, and former Boeheim assistant Rob Murphy, in the second stanza to win 62-47 on Wednesday night. With the win, Syracuse improved its record in non-conference play to 11-2.

The Orange looked rusty coming off their overtime loss to St. Bonaventure last Friday and the Christmas holiday, shooting just 23.8% in the opening 20 minutes. Despite the poor shooting, Syracuse connected on 12-of-15 free throws in the first half to manage a 24-24 tie with the Eagles at the break.

Syracuse outscored Eastern Michigan 38-23 after halftime and closed the game on an 18-6 run, which spanned the final 7:33.

Defensively, the Orange held the Eagles to just 37% shooting on the night and forced the visitors into 14 turnovers. Paschal Chukwu blocked 5 shots and Frank Howard grabbed 4 steals to lead the defense.

Tyus Battle led all scorers with 22 points, 16 of which came in the second half, and came away with 6 rebounds.

Jimmy V Classic
insidetheloudhouse.com

Chukwu recorded career-highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Chukwu shot just 48% from the charity stripe on the season, but he sunk 9-of-11 attempts against the Eagles. With Bourama Sidibe sidelined due to knee and ankle injuries, Chukwu was forced to play 37 minutes at the center position and he did not relinquish the opportunity to perform in extended minutes.

Oshae Brissett also turned in a double-double as he scored 11 point and pulled down 12 rebounds. Howard fished with 11 points and 7 assists.

Elijah Minnie paced Eastern Michigan with 13 points and 5 rebounds in the losing effort.

Syracuse enters ACC play with an 11-2 record including wins over three opponents from major conferences (Maryland, Connecticut, and Georgetown). Syracuse has struggled in games where they have allowed one player to beat them. Devonte’ Graham scored 35 for Kansas when they defeated the Orange and, most recently, Jaylen Adams dropped 23 to lead St. Bonaventure over Syracuse.

Syracuse has three players, Battle, Brissett, and Howard, that are averaging double figures and the offense has struggled when any one of those three has not played to their potential. This is one of the best defensive teams Syracuse has had in a while. The Orange are long and athletic, getting into opponent’s passing lanes, and blocking shots. This team is built to play Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone.

oshae emich
nunesmagician.com

With Geno Thorpe leaving the program and Sidibe playing limited minutes due to injuries, Boeheim’s bench is thinner than he predicted it to be. Chukwu, Matthew Moyer, and Marek Dolezaj have produced when necessary in order to win 11 games thus far, but will need to continue to improve as ACC play moves into full force. Recently, Howard Washington’s playing time has been when Boeheim is forced to play a three guard lineup to keep the big men out of foul trouble.

Syracuse has proven that you can never count them out. Their press forces turnovers and speeds opponents up when they need to get themselves back in the game.

Syracuse opens ACC play in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome on New Year’s Eve when they host the Virginia Tech Hokies for a 6pm tip-off.

Buzz Williams’ team is 10-2, including wins over Washington, Iowa, and Ole Miss. The Hokies are led by junior guard Ahmed Hill who is averaging 16.5 points and 4 rebounds per game. The Hokies defeated the Orange 83-73 when they met last year in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Buffalo at Syracuse

Syracuse Holds Off Buffalo

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dailyorange.com

Syracuse was able to fend off a late rally by Buffalo to come away with an 81-74 win at the Carrier Dome Tuesday night. Buffalo was tough and physical all night. The game featured eight lead changes in the last nine minutes of the game. Syracuse used a 14-6 run in the final 3 minutes to seal the victory.

The Orange defense was solid, holding the Bulls to just 37.7% shooting, but Syracuse struggled to keep Buffalo off the offensive glass as the Bulls came down with 16 offensive rebounds. Syracuse had an 8-3 advantage in blocked shots, all of which were swatted away by Paschal Chukwu.

Nick Perkins led the way for Buffalo as he scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, six of which came of the offensive end.

Offensively, Syracuse used a balanced attack and shot 50% from the field to come away with the win. The Orange converted on 83% of their free throw attempts. Oshae Brissett led the Orange with 25 points and 8 rebounds. The freshman forward tallied a career-high 25 points for the second straight game and set the Dome record for free throws made by a Syracuse player. Brissett was 16-for-16 from the charity stripe on the night.

Frank Howard finished with 18 points and 4 assists; Matthew Moyer recorded 12 points and 9 rebounds in the win.

Buffalo face-guarded Tyus Battle continuously and made it tough for him to get into a rhythm, but he still managed to finished with 13 points, 3 assists, and 4 steals.

Throughout the game, Brissett, Howard, Moyer, Battle, and Marek Dolezaj were all seen grimacing in pain due to the physical play. The Orange will need to recover quickly from the bumps and bruises they suffered in this game, as they are set to take on St. Bonaventure on Friday at the Carrier Dome. Tip-off is set for 7pm.

Toledo at Syracuse

Syracuse Takes Down Toledo

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syracuse.com

Syracuse defeated Toledo 72-64 Wednesday night to improve to 5-0 on the season. After leading the entire first half, Toledo’s Jaelen Stanford hit a 3 to cut the Orange’s lead to 33-32 at the break. The Rockets’ Nate Navigato put Toledo ahead 35-33 early in the second stanza. Syracuse took the lead for good behind a 3-point-play from red-shirt freshman Matthew Moyer.

Tyus Battle went to challenge a shot with 15:44 left in the game and came down awkwardly on his tail bone. After hobbling around on the court for a few minutes after sustaining the injury, Battle was pulled from the game and did not return. The Orange will hope to have him back for Monday’s game against Maryland.

Defensively, the Orange were solid once again as they held Toledo to just 33.3% shooting for the game and limited the Rockets to just 24.1% shooting in the second half. Syracuse blocked 6 shots and grabbed 6 steals as well.

Offensively, Syracuse was led by Frank Howard who had a career night. Howard scored a career high 25 points, grabbed a career high 6 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists. With Battle out, the freshman stepped up big in his absence. In addition to Howard, Oshae Brissett and Matthew Moyer both had career nights as well. Brissett turned in career highs in points a rebounds going for 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Moyer added a career high in points with 11 and corralled 7 rebounds. Tyus Battle poured in 8 points before he left with the back injury.

Let’s take a moment to discuss where Syracuse stands after their first five game and before the schedule gets tougher through the next three against Maryland, #3 Kansas, and Connecticut. Obviously, Orange Nation will be holding their breath until we receive any news regarding the severity of Battle’s injury, but prior to tonight, he was clearly playing like one of the top guards in the ACC. The point guard play of Frank Howard was Syracuse’s greatest question mark coming into the year. Although he is yet to be tested, Howard has improved steadily over the first five games. He is commanding the offense, gets the playmakers involved, and looked for his own shot. In addition to having a career night tonight, he also did not commit a turnover. The four freshman, Brissett, Moyer, Bourama Sidibe, and Marek Dolezaj have all proven that they can provide good minutes and Paschal Chukwu looks stronger and better defensively than he did a year ago, before he missed the rest of the season due to injury.

So, Happy Thanksgiving Orange Nation! Be thankful for the 5-0 start, pray for good news for Tyus Battle, and stay hungry for what the rest of the season has in store.

The Syracuse Orange return to action Monday, November 27 for a 7pm tip against the Maryland Terrapins inside the Carrier Dome. The game is part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.