Tyus Battle excels in new starting role for Syracuse

first_img Published on December 4, 2016 at 11:09 pm Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidman The decision to bench Tyler Roberson for the first time in 59 games was an easy one for Jim Boeheim. In Roberson’s last two games, over a span of 34 total minutes, the senior forward scored one point on 0-of-5 shooting. Insert Tyus Battle, Syracuse’s highest-rated recruit in the Class of 2015 but a freshman who hadn’t yet scored in double digits this season.Forty minutes of game time after Battle heard his name announced during pregame introductions for the first time, he had 19 points to his name. He was the primary supporting cast member to Andrew White, who lead SU with 26 points, gifting Boeheim with unexpected validation for the switch.“I didn’t think it would work out this well,” Boeheim said. “I didn’t think Tyus was ready to have this kind of game, but I’m glad he did.”Battle is traditionally a wing player, which showed with his four triples on Saturday in a 77-71 win over North Florida. But playing a more pure shooting guard role, Battle flashed an ability to penetrate that Boeheim has previously said needed work. Battle will get a chance at an encore when No. 22 Syracuse (5-2) faces Connecticut (3-4) under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden Monday at 7 p.m.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Starting doesn’t really matter,” Battle said. “It’s just playing on the floor. That’s the most important thing, just making an impact when you get in the game.”As Roberson trotted back to the bench from the pregame huddle with his warm-up top still on, receiving a pat on the back from assistant coach Mike Hopkins, Battle headed onto the floor but took a little while to get going. The freshman only took two shots in the first half in 16 minutes, hitting 1-of-2 3-pointers while White took over.Battle didn’t grab any rebounds or tally any assists in the opening half, but quickly got involved in the second frame with a two-handed flush on a fast break to open the scoring. He was the primary benefactor in the second half of Frank Howard’s penetration, waiting on the wing until Howard drew in Battle’s defender to free up space for the freshman.Battle hit all three of his 3-pointers in the second half and didn’t miss any of his five shots in the latter 20 minutes, leading Syracuse in the second half with 16 points.“I don’t know if he was capable of what he did tonight earlier in the year,” White said. “I’m glad to see him do what he did. He’s growing up a lot as a shooter.”After Battle played a season-low 13 minutes in a 64-50 loss to South Carolina, scoring no points and only taking two shots, Boeheim said the freshman seemed “a little lost out there.”Three games later, the head coach called on one of his youngest players while altering the starting five, something Syracuse didn’t do all of last season.“He just told me to get out there and be aggressive, make plays,” Battle said of Boeheim. “Don’t worry about scoring as much, just make things happen on the floor.”Against North Florida, Battle didn’t seem to worry about scoring in the first half. He didn’t need to. But when White’s production faded, only scoring five points in the final 17:38, Battle gave Syracuse a glimpse at the total package he’s capable of delivering.“His IQ is building a lot and that’s something that I try to help him with a little bit every day,” White said. “So I was proud for him to be able to have that kind of game in his first-career start.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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