In just the third game of the season, Syracuse (3-0, 0-0) continued to find new ways to win, knocking off Texas Southern (0-4, 0-0) 80-67 in the Carrier Dome.
It was the 'Cuse offense that earned it a win over the Tigers, with five players in double digit scoring. Tyus Battle led the way with 21 points. Similar to his performance against Iona, Battle saved his scoring for the second half, as he put 16 points after intermission.
Texas Southern hung around in the game for a long time. The Tigers relied heavily on the play of Donte Clark. The senior played all but one minute against the Orange and led the team in scoring with 20. He also added five assists and continually earned his way to the foul line, where he hit all seven of his free throws.
The theme of the game for the Orange was its ball movement. Coming into the game, Syracuse was averaging just 13 assists per game. Against the Tigers, the Orange put up 21 assists, including eight from Frank Howard and seven from Marek Dolezaj.
Syracuse had been relying on defense to win games in its first two games, but the Orange offense came alive. Graduate transfer Geno Thorpe did much of the heavy lifting in the first half, before going cold from the field. Thrope scored all of his 13 points during the first half, pacing 'Cuse to an eight-point lead at the break. Despite his second half silence, Thorpe looked much more comfortable on the court than he did in the team's last game.
As much as Battle led the way with his scoring, this seemed like a full team effort on the offensive end. Howard added 12 points and Bourama Sidibe accounted for 11.
Dolezaj did his part scoring, but his performance went well beyond his scoring. He came up one rebound and three assists short of notching a triple-double. His final stat line included 10 points, seven assists, nine rebounds and two blocks. His impact was felt on both ends of the court.
With Dolezaj's continued improvement on both ends of the floor, it could be just a matter of time before he takes over for struggling redshirt freshman Matthew Moyer. For the second straight game, Moyer failed to score a point, missing his only two shots from the field. All game long, he seemed to struggle to find open looks in the Syracuse offense.
Down the stretch, Texas Southern seemed to be losing steam, which is understandable given the stretch of games it has played to open the year. The Tigers have already played Gonzaga, Ohio State and Washington State, the latter heading to overtime, before arriving in Syracuse. The schedule does not get any easier, as the they take on Kansas next.
For Syracuse, the Orange will take a solid home win into the rest of the Hoophall Miami Invitational as it hosts Oakland on Monday.