Battle helps Syracuse finish off Miami 62-55
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Syracuse’s Tyus Battle wore bags of ice on both knees in the postgame locker room as he talked about keeping his cool on a frustrating afternoon.
The sophomore guard struggled with his shot and committed three turnovers Saturday, but scored six points in the final 86 seconds to help the Orangemen hold off the Miami Hurricanes 62-55.
“A terrible shooting day,” said Battle, who went 4 for 14. “I think I was rushing a little too much. But bad shooting games happen. As long as we win, I’m happy.”
The Orangemen (18-9, 7-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) won for the third time in their past four road games to tighten a logjam in the middle of the league standings. The Hurricanes (18-8, 7-7) lost at home for the second time this week, and dropped their third game in a row overall.
Syracuse limited Miami to a season-low 34-percent shooting, and the Hurricanes were often forced into bad shots at long range, going 7 for 31 (23 percent) from beyond the arc.
Even so, they erased a 12-point second-half deficit and were tough to put away. Battle finished off Miami in part by sinking a 3-pointer for 57-51 lead for the Orangemen.
“They have confidence in me to get a bucket in that situation, and I love situations like that,” Battle said. “I know I missed a lot of shots the entire game, but I knew how to get that one.”
“That was the game,” teammate Frank Howard said. “I just wanted to get him the ball and get out of the way. That’s all you really need to do with him.”
Battle added three free throws in final 40 seconds. He came into the game averaging 20.2 points but settled for 13.
Because Syracuse won, Battle didn’t mind taking some ribbing about his struggles.
“Ty lost the ball two or three times,” Howard said, turning to his teammate. “I don’t know what you were doing.”
Battle just shrugged and smiled.
Howard had 18 points, six assists and only one turnover for the Orangemen, who shot 48 percent. Oshae Brissett added 16 points and 12 rebounds. Both played 40 minutes, as did Battle.
Coach Jim Boeheim praised his team’s collective effort.
“When Tyus struggles to shoot it well, we usually struggle to win and usually can’t win,” Boeheim said.
Chris Lykes needed 16 shots to score 14 points for Miami, while Lonnie Walker IV scored 12 but fouled out. Coach Jim Larranaga said his team struggled offensively after practicing well this week.
“The Syracuse zone must be better than our scout team zone, because it was very, very hard to score today,” Larranaga said. “Even some of the shots we made were really challenged.”
Walker said the Orangemen’s length made things difficult.
“They have a lot of tall players with long arms, making it hard to pass into the middle or the corner,” the freshman said. “Once you find out how to beat it, it begins to open up but we found that out too late.”
Syracuse held Miami scoreless for six minutes during a 15-0 run early in the second half to lead 40-28. Larranaga needed three timeouts during the drought, but the Hurricanes soon answered with a 9-0 burst to tie the game at 45.
The Orange then scored seven consecutive points, including five by Howard, and led the rest of the way.
Syracuse freshman forward Marek Dolezaj scored 11 points, more than double his average, and made four of five shots.
“Nobody is guarding Marek, and he got himself in the right spots,” Boeheim said. “Those were big plays.”
Miami’s Anthony Lawrence missed 13 consecutive shots over a two-game span before scoring on a drive midway through the second half.
PART OF A PATTERN
The Hurricanes fell to 4-10 at home all-time against Syracuse.
The Orangemen split games in South Florida this season. They lost to Kansas in the Hoophall Miami Invitational on Dec. 2.
The Hurricanes are 3-3 without star guard Bruce Brown, sidelined by a left foot injury. He’s expected to return early next month.
Syracuse: Plays host to No. 14 North Carolina on Wednesday.
Miami: Plays at Notre Dame on Monday.
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