Saturday night, Syracuse wrapped a 29-6 run around the halftime break to blow open a tight game against Texas Southern and eventually secure an 80-67 home win in the opener of the Hoophall Miami Invitational. That burst featured 15 straight points to start the second half, delivering a knockout punch from the Orange (3-0). In the decisive 15-0 stretch, SU got nine points from Tyus Battle, who had 16 in the second half and 21 in the game to lead all scorers.
Syracuse amassed 16 offensive rebounds in the game, keying their 40-28 rebounding margin over the Tigers (0-4). The Orange also did an excellent job moving the ball, as they had 21 assists on their 26 field goals.
After Texas Southern opened the game with a 7-2 start, SU responded with seven straight points for their first lead of the night. Tyus Battle started the run with a three-pointer off the left wing, then came up with a steal and drove the length of the court to draw a foul. His two foul shots tied the game, then a Bourama Sidibe putback on the next trip gave Syracuse a 9-7 lead.
The two teams remained within one possession for most of the opening half from there, as neither team led by more than three points until the decisive Orange run.
With the score tied at 24 and a little over four minutes on the clock, SU scored 11 of the game’s next 14 points to grab control. Geno Thorpe started the streak with a pair three-point shots, hitting one from the left side, then drilling another from the right wing. After a Tiger score, Sidibe then found Marek Dolezaj cutting on the baseline for a reverse lay-up. Sidibe matched a foul shot by the guests, then Frank Howard made a steal and fed Thorpe for a transition score and a 35-27 lead with 1:31 left in the half.
Syracuse maintained that margin at the half, holding a 38-30 lead at the break.
The Orange all but ended the game five minutes into the second half, ripping off 15 straight points. Battle started the run with a triple, then Howard tossed an alley-oop to Paschal Chukwu.
Following a technical foul called on Texas Southern coach Mike Davis, Battle connected on a pair of foul shots, then scooped up a loose ball and drove the court for a lay-in and a 17-point lead. Battle followed that with a pull-up jumper and, after Dolezaj hit a pair of free throws, made a steal and dished to Howard for a lay-in and a 53-30 SU lead.
The Tigers shaved seven points off that lead, but Syracuse responded with an 8-2 run to go back up by 22. Battle came off a screen for a three-pointer, then Howard added a pair of free throws. Dolezaj canned another foul shot and Battle piled on two more after another technical foul, this one on Texas Southern’s Kevin Scott. Those last two markers stretched the lead back to 65-43 just past the midpoint of the second half.
The Tigers would not go away quietly, posting a 12-2 run capped by nine straight points to get within a dozen with 6:38 on the clock.
Dolezaj ended the Texas Southern run by hitting Sidibe with a high-low entry pass for a slam. After a Tiger basket, Howard stuck a straightaway three and Oshae Brissett added a lay-up to put Orange back on top by 17 points with 4:30 to play.
Tyus Battle was quite efficient while ringing up 21 points, hitting 6-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-6 from deep, and also had three steals. Geno Thorpe also hit three treys as he came off the bench for 13 points. Frank Howard handed out eight assists to go with his dozen points. Bourama had 11 points off the bench and Marek Dolezaj did a little bit of everything in a reserve role, finishing with ten points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Oshae Brissett led all players with ten rebounds.
All five Texas Southern starters reached double digits in scoring, led by Donte Clark’s 20. Robert Lewis had 13 points and Trayvon Reed added a dozen. Kevin Scott and Derrick Bruce added 11 and ten points, respectively.
SU faces a quick turnaround, as they will return to the Carrier Dome on Monday night to face Oakland as the Hoophall Miami Invitational continues. The Golden Grizzlies (2-1) fell to Toledo (Syracuse’s opponent on Wednesday) on Saturday night, 87-74.
Kendrick Nunn, who had 24 points for Oakland on Saturday, leads the team with 28.0 points per contest on the young season while Martez Walker, who rolled up 29 points against Toledo, averages 24.3 points per game.
The Syracuse-Oakland game tips off at 7:00pm Eastern and can be watched online at ESPN3.com.