SU Basketball v Maryland

Syracuse skirts past Maryland 72-70 in nail-biting ACC-Big 10 Challenge opener

The Orange earned the victory in a game that saw the lead change 20 times.

Monday night’s contest between the Syracuse Orange (6-0) and Maryland Terrapins (6-2) certainly did not disappoint. In the opening game of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim and the Orange faced their toughest opponent so far.

Maryland sophomore Kevin Huerter, who played high school basketball in nearby Clifton Park, put on an impressive shooting display. He drained seven of his nine 3-point attempts and finished with 23 points.

Photo: Chase Guttman
SU runner Justyn Knight was honored during halftime of the Syracuse vs. Maryland game for winning the NCAA individual title.

On the flip side, Syracuse was cold from beyond the arc, shooting three of 18. The Orange instead relied on attacking the basket to overcome its 3-point shooting slump. SU outscored Maryland 42-20 in the paint and took advantage of second-chance opportunities.

Still, it was ultimately the Syracuse defense that won this contest for the Orange. Costly second-half turnovers plagued the Terps and a huge steal by sophomore guard Tyus Battle with under a minute remaining appeared to seal the deal.

With 13 seconds remaining and Syracuse ahead 70-66, junior center Paschal Chukwu missed two free throws. Huerter got the ball and scored his final three from deep to close the gap to one with 7.2 seconds left.

Out of the timeout, Battle broke the Maryland press and slammed home with an exclamation mark dunk.

Battle came through clutch, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the second half. After injuring his back in last week’s contest against Toledo, Battle logged 37 minutes despite playing “at probably 50 percent,” Boeheim said.

“We showed a lot of heart tonight,” Boeheim said after the game, which had 20 lead changes. “Maryland is very physical. They out-rebound everybody…and we out-rebounded them.”

Freshman forward Oshae Brissett notched his second double-double of the season, posting 15 points and 13 rebounds. He now averages a team-high 9.8 rebounds through six games.

Point guard Frank Howard commanded the floor well, nearly earning a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and seven steals.

“Proud of how the young guys battled,” Howard said when asked about Syracuse’s defensive effort. “They are going to fight every night. Having that talent to change shots can bring this team to the next level.”

Other freshmen had impacts, too. Marek Dolezaj added 10 points and seven rebounds. Bourama Sidibe had eight points and two blocks.

Next up, Syracuse will hit the road for the first time this season and face off against No. 2 Kansas in Miami on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. This is the final game of the Hoophall Miami Invitational, that saw SU beat Texas Southern, Oakland and Toledo.

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