Battle, Boeheim Spark Syracuse Offense in Win Over Boston College
By David Edelstein
CitrusTV Basketball Reporter
Ten days after playing Boston College for the first time this season and saying his team was mediocre but still got the win, Jim Boeheim was much more complimentary of his team’s play on Saturday as Syracuse (17-7, 8-3 ACC) defeated the Eagles (11-11, 2-8 ACC) again, this time 67-56, to sweep the regular season series.
“We had a good stretch. We started out, we were slow early. Then we had a little good stretch there to get the 10-point lead. Then the second half, we had a really good stretch. Played really well,” Boeheim said.
It was a bounce-back game Syracuse needed, coming off a loss to Florida State that the Orange said had a lot to do with getting tired after making it a one possession game when they had been down by 22 points late in the first half.
While Boeheim said Boston College missed some shots he thought they would usually make, he credited the difference in this game to SU’s improved shooting as the game went on as well as “Marek [Dolezaj doing] a fantastic job blocking balls away.”
Contributing to the Eagles’ slow start was BC head coach Jim Christian’s decision to bench team-leading scorer Ky Bowman for the first few minutes of the game. Without him for the first 5:03 of the game, the Eagles went 0-10 in shooting and scored just one point off a free throw.
Even still, Syracuse only led 4-1 at that point. Rebounding stood out as a point of concern for the Orange and allowed the score to remain close.
“I don’t think we’re getting to loose balls,” Boeheim said. “We got to a few there, and that’s when we got on the run. But we’re not getting to some of those. We had three guys around the ball at one time, and they got it.”
It was Buddy Boeheim who sparked Syracuse’s offense late in the first half. Shooting 3-3 from beyond the arc, Buddy entered the locker room at halftime with 11 points to lead the Orange.
Syracuse was up 31-24 at the half.
Scoring just six points in the first 20 minutes of play, Tyus Battle scored 15 of his total 21 points in the second half. It was a similar story against Boston College on January 30 when Battle scored 21 of his total 31 points after halftime.
“It’s happened a lot since I’ve been here at Syracuse,” Battle said after the game. “I don’t really know what it is. I just try to stay aggressive, and when you stay aggressive the entire game, you’re going to start get going at some point.”
SU scored 25 points off turnovers and 12 off of fast breaks in the game. With three steals, Battle saw a lot of open court in the second half, including one fast break for a slam dunk that rallied the fans and led BC to call a timeout.
“I like it a lot,” Battle said. “I don’t see it much, so when I do get it, I just try to be aggressive and make something happen.”
Meanwhile, Frank Howard shot 1-9 from the field with just one three pointer in the game. Still, Boeheim defended his decision to keep Howard in the game despite recent struggles.
“Frank Howard is going to play. Unless he has two more games where he doesn’t make any shots. Then we’ll reevaluate it then,” Boeheim said.
Jalen Carey played for a total of two minutes in the game. While he took Carey out quickly, Boeheim later said it was not because Carey wasn’t playing well but because the players around him were making mistakes.
“It wasn’t his fault,” Boeheim said. “The other guys let him down. He made one bad play, but the other guys each made one or two bad plays. It didn’t have anything to do with Jalen. I thought with all the veteran guys out there that he could play a few minutes and not get it down to six points, but we couldn’t.”
Syracuse had a 20 point lead but then didn’t score for nearly five minutes, allowing Boston College to go on a run.
“A 20-point lead is nothing. They make two threes and two twos and now its a 10-point lead. So, you just can’t play poorly like that. We had the guys in there that we shouldn’t have had that problem at all,” Boeheim said.
Oshae Brissett had his third straight double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling in 12 rebounds off the glass. Brissett said his recent success is about staying aggressive.
“There’s a couple times me and Tyus are both running down the side. When that happens, you really just have to pick one and hope for the best, honestly. I can finish, Tyus can finish, and we got great results each time,” Brissett said.
There were a few moments where Brissett had an open look toward the net but opted to pass the ball out to Buddy Boeheim for a three. He said it is a balancing act of getting to rim and staying aggressive while also knowing when to pass, just having a “feel of the game” and knowing what to do in each situation.
“They find me and they believe in me,” Buddy said. “They tell me to shoot every time. It’s really great playing with guys like that. I love playing with them.”
Buddy attributed some of his success to the players around him creating open shots for him, especially Battle.
“They over help on him, which they should because he’s going to beat that first defender. They help, and I’m usually open for three. They’ll kick it out and I’ll get a good look,” Buddy said.
In the final seconds of the game with Syracuse in the lead, Buddy had the ball and an open opportunity for a three point shot. It seemed in that moment that all 26,011 fans in attendance collectively shouted for Buddy to shoot, but instead he held the ball and took a foul, leading the same fans to sigh just as loudly.
“I wish the fans wouldn’t tell him to shoot when the coaches told him not to shoot,” Boeheim said after the game. “They can pay money and they can cheer and everything, but they can’t coach.”
“Well, they can,” Boeheim said after a pause, smiling. “Fans were great today. The crowds have been great all year. They really have.”
“I’ve seen that too many times throughout my life here, and I know that, if you miss that, it looks terrible and it looks worse if you miss that than if you make it,” Buddy said about the moment. “I know that in that situation, you want to hold the clock out, get two free throws and just make sure you can get the easy points.”
SU took the 67-56 victory, and Boeheim said the Orange still have a lot to work on.
“We played well enough to win,” Boeheim said.
Syracuse next plays Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. against NC State for a one-game road trip.
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