The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team opened their season with an exhibition game victory against Indiana University (PA). The Orange lineup featured two new editions in Sophomore guard Frank Howard and Graduate Transfer Andrew White III. Although the Orange struggled during the opening minutes of the game, they eventually found their stride and relied on some key role players, including freshman Tyus Battle.
The Orange surprisingly began the game mixing in man to man defense, a rare sight to see from a Jim Boeheim team. This may have been a key reason for the early struggles, as the Crimson Hawks ran out to an early 29-18 lead. That lead slowly and steadily disintegrated, as Syracuse reverted back to their original 2-3 defense and unleashed a full court press. The defense soon tightened up after making the switch, and freshman Tyus Battle brought a spark off the bench, hitting two quick threes to ignite the run.
Once Boeheim brought back in Tyler Lydon and Frank Howard for the final minutes of the quarter, Syracuse looked nearly unstoppable, scoring at will and finishing the half on a 20-4 run to take a 38-33 lead. Battle lead the Orange in first half scoring with 13, and that number alone outscored the entire Crimson Hawks bench in the half.
As the second half began, Boeheim continued to utilize his bench, bringing in Junior backup center Paschal Chukwu within the first minute of action in the second half. Boeheim also worked in freshman Taurean Thompson, who showed flashes of post brilliance, cleaning up Syracuse misses and showing off his smooth hook shot. Graduate Transfer Jon Gillon also got extended minutes off the bench for the Orange, and made each one count, dishing out nine assists in 20 minutes of action.
The Orange looked much more structured in the second half, mainly in part due to outrebounding the Crimson Hawks by 13, and committing less turnovers. The Orange dominated the defensive side of the ball, tallying seven blocks compared to the Crimson Hawks zero, with Lydon and Chukwu leading the charge with two blocks apiece. The Orange also limited the Crimson Hawks to 38.1% shooting on the night, including a mediocre 22.2% from beyond the arc.
There were many impact players for the Orange, but one player that was consistently active on both sides of the ball was Tyler Roberson. The senior forward finished with 14 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 3 of those offensive. Although Roberson only logged in 22 minutes, he continued to stay active and bail out his teammates with a key block or put back.
The Orange continue their preseason action Nov. 8th against LeMoyne, and are hoping to make even more strides before their season opener Nov. 11th against Colgate.