With six of its top seven scorers from last season no longer with the team, Syracuse has to be thankful for Tyus Battle. The sophomore shooting guard aims for another quality effort Saturday against visiting Texas Southern in the Orange’s opener of the Hoophall Miami Invitational.
Battle averaged 11.3 points as a freshman on 43.3 percent shooting but has scored 18 and a career-high 28 points, respectively, in the first two games this season. He was 11-for-19 in Tuesday’s nine-point win against Iona, earning the praise of veteran coach Jim Boeheim. “At the end of the year, he was playing just like this, but he’s more confident, he’s stronger, and he knows he’s gotta go,” Boeheim told reporters. “Last year, we had options. Now he’s the main guy. Tyus made the plays that had to be made.” Texas Southern will be playing the fourth contest of a 13-game road trip to begin the season - a trek that includes matchups with Gonzaga, Kansas, Oregon, Baylor and TCU.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT TEXAS SOUTHERN (0-3): The Tigers lost at Ohio State 82-64 on Thursday, going on a 13-0 run to get within 59-57 before the Buckeyes pulled away. “They did a great job of recovering,” coach Mike Davis told reporters regarding his squad. “It’s all about the recovery. They had a let-down, we made our run, cut it to two. Then they recovered back and next thing you know, we’re down 13.” Four players scored in double figures for Texas Southern - including Donte Clark, who is averaging 17.3 points after scoring 17 in the setback.
ABOUT SYRACUSE (2-0): The Orange have not shot particularly well through two games, connecting on 44.4 percent from the field, 65 percent from the foul line and 34.3 percent from beyond the arc. After Battle, Frank Howard is averaging 12 points and Oshae Brissett is chipping in 11.5. Brissett, the team’s top incoming freshman, is just 7-for-22 this season, while Matthew Moyer did not make a basket against Iona.
1. Texas Southern G Demontrae Jefferson, who was suspended for the game versus Ohio State, is averaging a team-high 21 points on the season.
2. Syracuse C Paschal Chukwu and F Bourama Sidibe have combined for 10 blocks in two games.
3. Orange G Geno Thorpe, a transfer from South Florida, has missed 11 of his first 16 shots with his new team.
PREDICTION: Texas Southern 68, Syracuse 64