Syracuse basketball finally awakens on offense in win over Louisville

Tyus Battle
Syracuse Orange guard Tyus Battle shoots against Louisville Cardinals guard Ryan McMahon during the first half at KFC Yum! Center. (Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports)

After shooting under 33 percent overall and averaging under 52 points per game in their last three contests, the Syracuse offense came to life in a big way on Monday night against the top-25 defense of Louisville. The Orange (16-8, 5-6 ACC) shot over 47 percent from the field, including over 46 percent from three-point range, as they grabbed a 78-73 road win against the Cardinals (16-8, 6-5).

SU turned in that performance while dealing with foul trouble across its frontcourt. With only six regulars available, the Orange had to hold on late with Oshae Brissett fouled out, Paschal Chukwu and Marek Dolezaj with four fouls each, and Matt Moyer with three.

While forced to pull back on its aggression at times, the Orange were still able to defend one key area well – the three-point arc. The Cards made only 5-of-21 three-pointers on the night. SU also forced 11 turnovers in the game, including nine in the first half that they turned into 16 points.

Facing a 15-9 deficit just over seven minutes into the action, Syracuse needed just over a minute to rip off eight unanswered points to grab their first lead of the night. Matt Moyer tossed a bounce pass to Frank Howard, who stepped into a swished three-pointer. Tyus Battle slashed in from the right wing for a reverse lay-up as part of a three-point-play, then capped the burst with two more foul shots after getting fouled in transition after a steal.

The two squads passed the lead back and forth over the next couple minutes, then the Orange ran off another run, this one an 11-3 streak that gave them a lead they would never relinquish.

Oshae Brissett made two-of-three at the line, then cashed in some great ball movement from his teammates with a clean three from the left corner. After a Louisville basket, Howard coaxed a pair of foul shots home. The Cards added a free throw, but Brissett broke their press and fed Paschal Chukwu for a slam dunk. Battle finished the streak with a pull-up in the paint and SU held a 31-24 lead with just over five minutes left in the opening half.

A couple minutes later, the Syracuse lead stretched to ten via six straight points. Marek Dolezaj rattled home a turnaround jumper from inside the right elbow, then Battle added two more free throws and a leaning lay-in for a 39-29 lead. The Cardinals would strike back with a foul shot and a long three-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer, narrowing the gap to 39-33 at intermission.

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Louisville narrowed the Orange lead to four early in the second half, but the guests struck back with an 8-2 run to go back up by ten. Battle hit a long jumper to start the span, only to be matched by a Cardinal score. Chukwu made a nice bounce pass to Moyer for a lay-in, then set a screen that took a pair of Cards out to clear a path for a Battle lay-up. The center then gathered an airball and dropped in the final score of the run and a 56-46 lead.

The hosts responded with five points to halve the lead, but Howard took the air out of their fans with a left wing three late in the shot clock. The Cards responded with a deuce, but Howard drove across the lane for a lay-up and Battle tacked on a pull-up jumper and two foul shots for SU’s biggest lead of the night at 65-53.

Louisville immediately went to work, picking apart Syracuse’s foul-riddled frontline inside. In just over three minutes, the Cardinals erased most of the lead, drawing within 67-65 with just over four minutes to play.

Brissett righted the Orange with two from the line, the Battle stuck a foul-line jumper to push the lead out to a half dozen. The Cards bit into the lead with two foul shots after Brissett committed his fifth foul, but Dolezaj tapped home a Battle miss for a 73-67 lead with just under a minute to play.

Howard was fouled by a pressing Louisville defense, but made only his first shot. Howard then picked up a loose ball and got it to Battle, who was fouled and cashed in on both shots to reinstate the six-point SU lead with 11 seconds to go.

The Cards would not quit, halving the gap with another triple with 2.6 seconds to go. Battle got the inbound pass and was immediately fouled. The junior guard finished the game by swishing both foul shots to make it a five-point game.

Tyus Battle led all scorers with 25 points on the night, including a pristine 11-for-11 line at the charity stripe. Frank Howard, who entered the game mired in a 10-for-44 slump, shot 7-of-15 from the field, including 3-for-5 on treys, as he rolled up 22 points. Oshae Brissett posted 16 points while Marek Dolezaj aided the Orange cause with eight points.

Ray Spalding led Louisville with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting and added a game-high nine rebounds. Deng Adel and Anas Mahmoud each added ten points while Malik Williams chipped in with nine.

Syracuse will now have a chance to get some rest, as they are off until hosting Wake Forest on Sunday. On January 3rd, the Orange fell to the Demon Deacons (9-14, 2-9) on the road, 73-67. Frank Howard hit five triples en route to 23 points for SU and Oshae Brissett added 16 points, while Bryant Crawford paced Wake with 19.

Following that victory over the Orange, Wake Forest endured a seven-game losing streak before beating Florida State. The Deacons play at #25 Miami on Wednesday evening before traveling to the Carrier Dome.

Sunday’s contest is a matinee that will get underway at 1:00pm Eastern. The ACC Network will televise the game in certain local markets and the telecast will also be available on

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About Jim Stechschulte 894 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. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by He currently resides in Syracuse.