Syracuse misses Frank Howard, and too many shots, in loss to UConn

Jim Boeheim speaks with reporters following Syracuse's 83-76 loss to UConn at Madison Square Garden. Photo Credit: Wesley Cheng, The Juice Online.

NEW YORK — The numbers weren’t pretty.

In Syracuse’s 83-76 loss to Connecticut on Thursday night in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden, the Orange struggled to score.

SU shot just 39.4 percent from the field and 6 of 22 from beyond the arc. The Orange also committed nine first half turnovers.

“We can’t make anything,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “That’s all I see. Three games and we’re shooting nothing.”

Actually, the Orange’s shooting percentage from outside improved against the Huskies. In its first two games against Eastern Washington and Morehead State, SU shot a combined 6 for 33 (18.2 percent) from downtown.

Syracuse struggled with similar problems last season, but those issues figured to improve this season given the Orange’s upgrades to its roster.

On top of returning Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett, SU added a lethal outside threat in Buddy Boeheim and an above average shooter in Elijah Hughes.

» Related: Syracuse defeated by UConn in 2K Classic

But neither has done anything to improve SU’s 3-point shooting three games into the season. Hughes is shooting 11 percent and Boeheim is at 10 percent from distance.

Hughes, Battle and Brissett struggled in particular against the Huskies, as the trio combined to shoot 15 of 46 from the field.

“I don’t think it’s our shooting. We just have to move the ball better,” Battle said. “When we get better looks, at least easier 3s, of course your percentage will go up. We’re just taking some tough shots right now.”

Part of it has to do with Syracuse missing its starting senior point guard, Frank Howard, who has been out with an injury since September. It has been a glaring omission from Syracuse’s lineup, as the Orange has struggled to get into its halfcourt sets, and has frequently settled for contested shots.

In Howard’s absence, Tyus Battle and Jalen Carey have started in his place with mixed results.

“Jalen’s not used to running an offense. He didn’t play point guard in high school until last year,” Boeheim said. “Tyus is a 2 and he’s always been a 2.”

Though Carey finished with a career-high 26 points and Battle chipped in 16, Carey didn’t record an assist and had six turnovers, while Battle led SU with four assists. SU assisted on just 10 of its 26 field goals.

Boeheim didn’t set a timetable for Howard’s returning, but hoped that he would be available in two weeks. He ruled him out of Syracuse’s Friday night matchup against Oregon during his postgame press conference despite reports that listed Howard as day-to-day.

“It’s hard when you don’t have that guy to run your team,” Boeheim said. “And we’re going to have to survive until he gets back.”

But Battle was cautious to pin Syracuse’s problems all on Howard’s absence.

“Frank helps us, but it’s not a huge deal,” Battle said “Jalen played really well tonight and had 26 points. I don’t think it’s that. We just have to move the ball better.”

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]