Tyus Battle overcomes slow start to lead Syracuse past Michigan State to Sweet 16

first_imgDETROIT — Tyus Battle shook his head. He clapped his hands, and he beat his chest. Syracuse’s sophomore swingman was visibly frustrated the entire first half.In the NCAA Tournament, against a Michigan State group that entered the NCAA Tournament ranked fifth, the Orange’s leading scorer was nowhere to be found. He’d missed all four of his shots and split a pair of free throws. He was out-hustled to a long rebound that gave MSU another possession, and he was stripped going for a layup on a fastbreak.Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim wasn’t happy with his team’s offense. And he felt he needed more from the team’s two star guards, Battle and Frank Howard.“I told them at halftime, ‘We can’t win without you two guys,’” Boeheim said. “‘You’ve got to go. Tyus, you’ve got to go.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange needed its star player, and finally he delivered. Battle scored 16 second-half points en route to helping No. 11 seed Syracuse (23-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) beat No. 3 seed Michigan State (30-5, 16-2 Big Ten), 55-53, on Sunday afternoon. It continues Syracuse’s improbable run through the NCAA Tournament, with its next game a rematch against No. 2 seed Duke in Omaha, Nebraska.Battle’s second-half run started with a tough floater over an MSU player two minutes in. He added another jumper, getting fouled in the process and converting the and-1.In the first half, against a strong Michigan State defense, Battle settled for tough jump shots and was short on a few. He started taking the ball toward the rim more in the second half.With about seven minutes left, Battle had the ball on the left wing, with the Syracuse support section right behind him. Former Syracuse star Derrick Coleman, who is second on Syracuse’s all-time scoring list, stood up from his seat and yelled, “They can’t take you Tyus, they can’t take you.”Shortly after, Battle’s job would get even harder when Howard fouled out. One of Syracuse’s big three was out and the Orange was still down four.“Me and Tyus just looked at each other and said, ‘We’re not going to let this game slip out of our fingers,’” Oshae Brissett, SU’s second-leading scorer, said. “We knew that this game was going to fall on us.”Tyus Battle didn’t hit a field goal in the first half. In the second half, his 16 led Syracuse to a win. Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerBattle, along with teammates Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe, picked up more points at the line for the Orange. That, combined with Oshae Brissett’s tough layup and stellar defense, helped give SU the lead.But the game was still in the balance. And to win, Syracuse still needed a bit more. And it needed it to come from Battle.With the clock ticking down under a minute and Syracuse up just one, Battle had the ball. He knew that Michigan State would try and pack the middle and stop his driving lanes. The Spartans knew he was going to shoot the ball.And as he’s done all year long, Battle made the clutch shot for Syracuse — a midrange jumper with 47 seconds to go to open up the three-point cushion SU needed.“I’m not worried about the first defender. I know I can beat him any time I want,” Battle said. “Once I went left, I saw he was with me a little bit, so I did a little step back just to clear space, and I didn’t get too deep, and I was open for a shot.”Against a weaker TCU team, the Orange was able to scrap by without its star player. That wouldn’t work against the Spartans. And not without Howard there to back him up.It took him a while, but Battle delivered.“With Frank out he’s going to have the ball and we’re going to go with what he can do,” Boeheim said. “And he made all the big plays in the second half.” Comments Published on March 18, 2018 at 8:51 pm Contact Tomer: tdlanger@syr.edu | @tomer_langer Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more