Deadlocked at 16-16 late in the first half, #2 Kansas scored 25 of the next 30 points to blow open the game and took home a 76-60 victory over Syracuse in the Hoophall Miami Invitational. While the Orange (6-1) trailed by as many as 20 points, they fought back, getting the margin down to seven less than six minutes out of halftime, but the Jayhawks (7-0) proved to be too much.
Devonte’ Graham was almost too much for SU by himself, pouring in a career-high 35 points, including seven three-pointers. Graham’s big night helped KU shoot over 49 percent from the field, including making 11 triples as a team.
Syracuse, meanwhile, struggled on offense in the first half, finishing the session 5-of-23 from the field and going almost nine minutes without a basket, a stretch that bled into the second half. SU would finish the game shooting a hair over 32 percent from the field and 6-of-27 from beyond the arc.
The Orange hung around by outrebounding Kansas, 36-31, including gathering 15 offensive boards, and also doubled up the Jayhawks in free throw attempts, 26-13, making 18 foul shots.
SU relied on the three-point shot early, getting one from Frank Howard to open the scoring, then a pair of treys from Oshae Brissett, the latter tying the game at nine a side after seven-and-a-half minutes. The two teams continued to keep each other under control for the next few minutes, but Tyus Battle got a floater in the paint and a lefty lay-in to make it a 16-16 game with 7:10 left in the opening half.
And the Syracuse offense failed to make a field goal the rest of the half.
Kansas would post a run of seven straight points at one point and Devonte’ Graham hit three straight triples in under two minutes leading to the half. The Orange made five free throws, but the Jayhawks’ offensive explosion gave them a 35-21 halftime lead.
Things were no better starting the second half as KU scored on their first three possessions, pushing their run to 25-5 and their lead to 41-21, forcing SU coach Jim Boeheim to call time out just over 80 seconds after the break.
Kansas nudged their lead out to 21 points just over a minute later, but the Orange came roaring back with a 16-2 run.
Howard started the stretch by converting a steal with a short jumper, then added a three-point play. The Jayhawks got a basket, then Syracuse piled on 11 straight points.
Howard stuck a three-pointer to get the SU offense going again, then came up with a steal and fed Battle for a slam dunk. Battle spun in a lay-in, forcing a Kansas time out. The break did not slow Battle down, as he drew a foul and made both shots. Brissett followed that by driving the left side for a lay-in that drew SU within 49-42 with less than six minutes gone in the half.
Kansas responded with another run, this time scoring 15 of the game’s next 20 points to take a commanding 64-47 lead with under eight minutes to go.
Syracuse would not go away, adding an 8-0 run shortly after that. Paschal Chukwu buried two sets of free throws to start the stretch, then Battle added his own pair from the line. The SU press forced a turnover and Howard converted the turnover into a short shot that cut the gap to 68-59 with four minute to play.
The Orange offense ran out of steam after that, enabling Kansas to pull away in the closing minutes.
Tyus Battle exploded after halftime, pouring in 16 of his 22 points. Frank Howard also turned it on after the break, tallying 12 of his 15 points after intermission. Oshae Brissett also reached double figures with 13 points to go along with nine rebounds.
Aside from Devonte’ Graham’s 35-point explosion, KU also got a big game from Lagerald Vick, who finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, and a game-high seven assists. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was the only other Jayhawk in double figures, netting 11 points.
The Orange return to action on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York, where they will face former Big East rival Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic. The Huskies (6-2) carry a modest two-game win streak into Syracuse’s “home away from home”, having beaten Columbia and Monmouth in the last four days, both in overtime.
Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier are the biggest offensive threats for UConn. Adams, who sat out the season opener, averages 19.4 points per game for the Huskies, highlighted by three games of at least 22 points, including a 31-point outburst against Monmouth on Saturday. Larrier averages 16.0 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game, while also leading the squad with 15 threes on the season.
Tip off for SU and UConn is listed for 9:00pm Eastern, but the game is the second of a doubleheader and may start later than that. NBA Betting sites have Syracuse as an early favorite over UCONN. ESPN will televise game, which will also be available online at ESPN3.com.