Syracuse again uses strong second half to win, downing Texas Southern, 80-67

first_imgAlthough the season is still very young for Syracuse, a trend has emerged. SU has struggled to pull away in the first half in each of its first three games, all at home against weaker opponents that rank outside the Top 120 teams in the country, per Kenpom.com.It happened again on Saturday night. Every time Syracuse looked like it would go on a run, something happened. Syracuse made two-of-three shots in the span of one minute halfway through the first half to take its first lead, but then Tyus Battle picked up his second foul and sat the rest of the way. With 1:31 left to go, Geno Thorpe scored a transition layup and got the and-1, but then missed the free throw. Texas Souther University hit a 3-pointer immediately after.“Tonight was the first time we’ve seen a 2-3 (zone),” junior point guard Frank Howard said. “And we were kind of just a little stagnant in the first half.”But, just like it has in the first two games, Syracuse (3-0) played much better in the second half. Battle drained a 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of a defender 11 seconds into the new frame. Nearly eight minutes into the latter stanza, he spun baseline to get out of a trap in the corner and cocked back a vicious one-handed dunk. In between, the Orange went on a 15-0 run to start the half, helping it pull away from Texas Southern (0-4), 80-67, Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome.“Offensively, the first half, it looked like we didn’t see a zone before,” head coach Jim Boeheim said bitingly. “Second half we moved the ball, got it in the high post.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGoing into this game, the Orange had shot just 37.2 percent in the first half of games. In the second half that number jumped up to 52.6.A similar thing happened against TSU. The Orange shot 41.4 percent in the first half. It got up to 50 percent in the second.SU seemed lethargic in the first half. Howard motioned to his teammates to pick up the pace early in the game. Assistant coach Gerry McNamara jumped up and yelled at Thorpe for having his hands down on defense.Thorpe did score 13 first-half points, though, helping keep the Orange in the game.“I felt like when I checked in that I needed to bring some type of energy to the game just because it was going back and forth,” Thorpe said. “I think the second half we picked it up a little bit more … we were patient on offense, trying to find open shooters.”The Orange team was faster and more aggressive, picking up three steals in the first five minutes of the frame. Those steals led to easy fast-break buckets, led by Battle who racked up 16 second-half points.The Orange leveraged an eight-point halftime advantage and the early run to go up big on TSU. The Tigers tried clawing back. Donte Clark, who burned the Orange in the first half, picked up six points in the second half. When he wasn’t scoring he was throwing lobs to 7-foot-2 center Trayvon Reed. With 6:38 to go, TSU had cut SU’s once 23-point lead to 12.Unlike the first half, though, SU found its knockout blow. Frank Howard knocked down a 3-point shot and Oshae Brissett made his first two shots of the game to bump the lead back up.Boeheim and Battle were both critical of the team relaxing late in the game and allowing TSU to get back in it, even if it was only for a little bit. The bigger issue for the Orange, though, seems to be its inability to get going earlier. SU plays Oakland next, its toughest opponent so far per Kenpom.Howard attributed the slow starts to a young team that gets more comfortable as the game goes along. He said that should be improving, though.“I think by now, this game, or next game, they should probably be starting on because we’ve seen a few different defenses,” Howard said. “And I think they’re learning, I think they’ll be better prepared.” Comments Published on November 18, 2017 at 9:25 pm Contact Tomer: tdlanger@syr.edu | @tomer_langer Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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