Syracuse defense locks down Maryland, nabs 12 steals in 72-70 win

first_imgMaryland, as it had done all night, tried to attack from the high post. The Terrapins needed two baskets, down four with 13 seconds to play, and it went to what was familiar.Syracuse, as it had done all night, crashed the high post. SU assistant coach Allen Griffin had told his big men that Maryland liked to attack from that spot, so they should play those passes aggressively.The ball found Terps forward Darryl Morsell and immediately SU center Paschal Chukwu stepped up and guard Frank Howard, playing at the top of the zone, dropped. The pass was low and Morsell fumbled at the ball for a second. Later, UMD head coach Mark Turgeon said, “It’s not like we could run anything (all game), going (against their) zone.”Howard, as he had done all night, pounced for one of his career-high seven steals. The two players fell to the floor in a scramble for the ball and Chukwu, who had been on Morsell’s back, reached out and plucked the ball from the scrum.“(Howard) did a good job sliding,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Frank’s doing a great job. He’s taken charge of the team and making big plays.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHoward secured his team’s second steal in as many late-game possessions and Syracuse (6-0) rode out the free throws for a 72-70 victory over the Terrapins (6-2) on Monday night in the Carrier Dome. Tyus Battle’s dramatic 3-pointer from the right corner gave Syracuse the lead with 59 seconds to go in a back-and-forth game, but it was the Howard-led defense troubling Maryland all night long that closed out the Orange’s win.In the final 31 seconds, Howard’s steal, and another from Battle — who had a team-high 18 points — also smoothed over the occasional lapses that led to Maryland shooting 11-for-23 from beyond the arc, including seven makes from sophomore guard Kevin Huerter.“Not to knock last year’s team, (but) I think our defense has been more active,” Battle said, laughing. “We’re moving more. It’s been pretty good so far. But we have a lot of things to continue to improve on. Huerter should have never had so many 3s this game.”Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorLast season, the Orange understood its role as an offensive-minded squad and Boeheim often made the corresponding defensive concessions to optimize his team’s strengths. As a result, Syracuse won tight games by slugging it out.Before this season even started, Boeheim said that would not be the case again, that a roster full of young players without refined offensive skillsets would need to rely on hustle and the 2-3 zone and maybe even the press, in some situations, to grit out big wins. Boeheim’s words proved true against Maryland, as the Orange tied its season high by nabbing 12 steals and out-rebounded a big Maryland squad, 39-33.“They out-rebound everybody they play,” Boeheim said. “And we out-rebounded them. I thought we did a pretty good job. … We’ve been better so far (on defense this year), but we’ve still got a long way to go.”The game’s last play was nearly a mirror of its first, which itself served as a microcosm for the entire game. When Maryland tossed the ball into the high post in the opening seconds, Howard ripped the ball away from Huerter and drew a foul on the other end as he drove to the hoop. Howard made both free throws. The Terrapins came down the floor on the ensuing possession and made the exact same entry pass. But this time, it stayed with the Terps and some quick passes opened up center Michael Cekovsky for a baby hook.The Orange and the Terrapins traded buckets like that all game long, Syracuse trying to pull away most of the time. But the two teams never entered a media timeout separated by more than four points. Maryland always found a way to claw back, ceding the inside but controlling the outside while Syracuse did the opposite. The Orange went 3-for-18 from beyond the arc, and Maryland compensated for the Orange’s shooting woes by living up to its billing as one of the most turnover-prone teams in the country with 18 giveaways.Every time Syracuse missed and Maryland wanted to push, the Orange made up for it on the defensive end by stuffing Maryland’s chances to pull further ahead. It started with Howard’s pressure at the top and funneled inside to both centers altering shots. If the ball went in the middle or to the high post, the Orange knew what to do then, too.“We rebound much better (this season),” Boeheim said. “We’re doing a much better job contesting shots around the basket and making people miss. Their big guys missed some shots around the basket. Their guards got in there and missed some shots around the basket.“That’s good.” Published on November 27, 2017 at 9:23 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TR Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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