Battle scores 23 as Syracuse holds off pesky Morehead State

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Syracuse Orange guard Tyus Battle (25) drives against Morehead State guard A.J. Hicks (0) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Saturday night, #16 Syracuse rode a balanced offensive attack and a strong rebounding effort to hold off Morehead State at the Carrier Dome, 84-70. Tyus Battle and Elijah Hughes topped 20 points apiece for the Orange (2-0), while Oshae Brissett and Paschal Chukwu each recorded a double-double.

SU also posted one strong run in each half, the first to get a comfortable early lead on the Eagles and the second to gain control of a game Eagles squad. In the first half, Syracuse used a 10-2 lead to take a 13-point lead. Morehead State whittled the gap down to a single point before intermission, but the Orange ran off a dozen straight points in the second half to gain some breathing room.

SU started quickly, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of play. Holding a 9-4 lead a couple minutes later, the Orange ran off a 10-2 run to take command.

Paschal Chukwu started the burst with a putback. Oshae Brissett had a pair of three-point plays around a Morehead State score and Bourama Sidibe closed the run with a putback of his own. That basket gave Syracuse a 19-6 lead with just over seven minutes off the clock.

Just before the midpoint of the half, SU nudged that lead out to 14 points on another three-point play by Brissett. The Eagles then took advantage of a series of miscues as they ran off ten straight points to start a 16-3 run. Syracuse, meanwhile, shot 1-for-8 from the field and also turned the ball over seven times in under six-and-a-half minutes, enabling the Eagles to claw back within 28-27.

Brissett and Sidibe righted the ship with a pair of scores inside, helping SU to a 36-30 halftime lead.

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Morehead State continued to threaten the Syracuse lead until the Orange ran off a dozen straight points to turn a 43-40 lead into a 15-point bulge. Elijah Hughes and Tyus Battle notched consecutive three-point plays to start the streak. Hughes, Chukwu, and Hughes again tacked on pairs of foul shots, giving the Orange a 55-40 lead just over six minutes into the second half.

SU kept the lead in double figures the rest of the night, save for when the Eagles drew within eight points with just under seven minutes to play. The Orange responded with a 7-2 run to reinstate the double-digit lead. Battle would push the lead to its greatest, throwing down a two-handed slam for a 16-point lead in the game’s final minute.

Tyus Battle poured in 18 of his 23 points in the second half to lead Syracuse while Elijah Hughes backed him with 21 points. Oshae Brissett scored 14 in the first half en route to a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double. Paschal Chukwu had 14 points, ten rebounds, and six blocked shots. Seven of Chukwu’s boards came on the offensive end.

Jordan Walker paced all scorers with 24 points for Morehead State, burying six three-pointers for the bulk of his damage. Lamontray Harris finished just shy of his own double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Malek Green added a dozen points for the Eagles.

The Orange will now head to Madison Square Garden in New York City for a Thursday night matchup with Connecticut in the 2K Classic. The Huskies (1-0) defeated Morehead State in their opener, 80-70, and will face Missouri-Kansas City on Sunday prior to playing the Orange.

UConn is coached by Dan Hurley, who had previously been the head coach at Rhode Island. Four different Husky players reached double figures in their opening victory, led by Josh Carlton’s 17 points. Jalen Adams, who averaged over 18 points a game last season, had 16 points in the opener and Alterique Gilbert added 15.

Syracuse and Connecticut will renew their rivalry from the Garden at 7:00pm Eastern Thursday. The game will be televised by ESPN2 and will also be available online at ESPN3.com.

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Syracuse 84, Morehead State 70 — What We Learned
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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 521 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.