Sports, Men's Basketball

Notebook: Battle, Orange Offense Too Much to Overcome

It was all about Tyus Battle on Wednesday night, as the best player on the floor helped guide Syracuse to a 77-71 victory over Boston College men’s basketball. BC (11-8, 2-5 Atlantic Coast) had its two-game win streak snapped at the hands of Jim Boeheim’s Orange (15-6, 6-2), which used efficient shooting and timely defense to take command of the game early on and maintain its grip for the rest of the contest. Here are six things that stood out in Wednesday night’s game.

1) Tyus Battle

Battle, the 6-foot-6 guard known for his driving ability, excelled in all phases of the game on Wednesday. His quickness and strength presented a nightmare matchup for the relatively undersized BC backcourt coming in—especially with Wynston Tabbs missing his fourth game with a left knee injury—and he proved to be nearly impossible to slow down. Battle fueled Syracuse with a game-high 31 points on a very efficient 11-of-17 shooting night. He showcased his elite skills in the lane, as he found success taking on multiple defenders and drawing fouls. To make matters worse for the Eagles’ defense, Battle caught fire from deep. Going 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, the junior wreaked havoc both inside and out. He was key to the Orange’s success on offense, especially with normal starting guard Frank Howard struggling and playing just 20 minutes.

2) Syracuse’s defense

Early on, Syracuse’s defense seemed flustered by BC’s offensive attack. The Eagles started off the game on a 15-6 run and seemed in control on that end of the floor. Jordan Chatman and Ky Bowman both found holes in the 2-3 zone to launch 3-pointers, and strong inside-out play had the Orange reeling after an early 10-2 BC run. Soon after, though, the Orange executed Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone to near perfection and gave the Eagles some problems. Without Tabbs to space the middle and with center Nik Popovic struggling, BC quickly slowed on offense and went through what was nearly a six-minute scoreless stretch. BC ultimately finished with 14 turnovers in the game, which included several shot clock violations—it was hard pressed to find any clean looks until very late on a lot of possessions.

3) Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman

The absence of Tabbs was once again felt in a game where the Eagles could have used a third key scorer and perimeter shooter. BC relied heavily on the backcourt duo of Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman to provide the bulk of the offense and keep the team in the game. Bowman and Chatman, each with 21 points, scored 42 of the team’s 71 total points on the night. Bowman, a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line, provided some key buckets down the stretch. The most notable was a circus corner 3-pointer he hit to beat the shot clock and pull the Eagles within five with 14:42 left in the game—a shot that Boeheim said he’d never seen before in the postgame press conference. Chatman’s shooting was huge yet again for BC. He went 4-of-12 from distance, his fourth straight game with at least four 3-pointers, and he energized the Eagles early by scoring seven of the team’s first 10 points.

4 Jared Hamilton’s Bench Spark

Jared Hamilton turned in his most impressive performance of the season, scoring a career-high 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Hamilton got off to a solid start when he checked in for Chris Herren Jr.—the freshman guard was ineffective on defense and was a step behind on offense, so head coach Jim Christian turned to the transfer. He would go on to play for a career-high 29 minutes and scoop up a pair of steals. On a night when someone needed to step up, his quality play off the bench was huge, in order to keep up with the Orange. His highlight-reel dunk that closed the deficit to just two points brought Conte Forum to life late in the game.

5) Orange First-Half Shooting

As a team, Syracuse was lights out in the first period. The Orange shot an astounding 63 percent from the field, to go along with 50 percent from 3-point range. BC wasn’t always playing shaky defense, the shots were just falling for the opposition and Syracuse’s length was causing problems. It seemed that every time a Syracuse player had an inch of space, whether from beyond the arc or mid-range, it’d capitalize. The team piled up 42 first-half points just a game removed from scoring only 24 en route to a blowout loss against Virginia Tech. The Orange cooled down slightly in the second half (56 percent for the game), but the shooting early on was incredible. BC was able to keep up—in large part because of the early cushion it built—but if not for that first-half performance, the end result of this game could have been a lot different.

6) Buddy Boeheim

What a night for Buddy Boeheim. The head coach’s son checked in noticeably early, entering for Howard, and made some big-time contributions on the floor. He tied his career high with 13 points, connecting on 3-of-5 3-pointers. His fast break layup to extend the lead back to 10 in the second half all but sealed the game, but Boeheim then capped off a great night with a block on Bowman. The performance sure was surprising, as he only played four minutes in the Orange’s blowout loss to Virginia Tech four days ago. Wednesday night, though, he made the most of his 20 minutes as a key role player in the Syracuse win.

Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Senior Staff

January 31, 2019