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Tyus Battle fights through injury, scores Syracuse’s final 9 points in 72-70 win over Maryland

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Tyus Battle stood in front of the Syracuse bench while the rest of his team was on the other end of the court. Marek Dolezaj was at the free-throw line for a one-and-one attempt, which he missed.Maryland brought the ball slowly up the court. Battle is normally one of SU’s best defenders and oftentimes claps loudly before getting in a ready position at the top of the zone. This time, though, as Anthony Cowan dribbled toward halfcourt, his right hand was on his hip and lower back. At one point in the game, Boeheim went over to a referee and said “No. 25 is hurt.”“He probably was 50 percent tonight,” head coach Jim Boeheim said postgame.Throughout most of the game, Battle struggled to string together solid plays. He left the last game against Toledo with a lower back injury, which dogged him throughout this matchup.Syracuse (6-0) was able to hang in without him at full capacity for most of the game. The margin in the second half didn’t go past four for either side. But Battle came to life down the stretch. He scored 18 points, including the last nine for the Orange in a 72-70 win over Maryland (6-2) on Monday night in the Carrier Dome.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Yea, I was at about around (50 percent). I wasn’t feeling too great out there,” Battle said. “I just had to gut it out and knock down some shots at the end of the game.”“I’ll be rehabbing the next couple of days,” he added with a smile.For a young SU team, Battle is supposed to be the driving force. The most veteran member of the Orange team, Frank Howard, said as much in the preseason. During ACC media day, Howard said that while last year’s team sometimes struggled with its offensive identity since there were so many capable scorers, this year’s team knew that the offense was going to run through Battle.That was seen throughout the first four and a half games for the Orange. When SU’s offense stalled, Battle would go on his own runs, like when he scored nine straight points in the first half against Oakland, all on jump shots.Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorExcept none of that was working tonight. Battle wasn’t as explosive and wasn’t blowing by defenders like he normally does. Instead of getting a clear look at the rim, Battle often found himself with a Terrapin in front of him. His most reliable shot on the night was a floater in the lane, after being unable to shake his defenders.“He said he could play. He didn’t look right, but when a player says he can play, I’m going to play him,” Boeheim said. “He’s our best player. He’s got to be in the game if he’s able to play.”Like the Toledo game, Howard led the offense when Battle couldn’t. Against the Rockets last Wednesday, that resulted in a career-high 25 points and allowed SU to pull away. While Howard did play very well, he and the rest of his Orange teammates couldn’t create that same gap between themselves and the Terrapins.Whatever Battle had left in the tank, he unleashed down the stretch. Howard said that at one point Battle asked for the ball and waved him off, and even though Howard knew Battle was hurt, he obliged.“It was tough,” Battle said. “But I knew I had to gut it out the last seven minutes of the game and make something happen.”Battle knocked down an off-balance floater while absorbing contact with three minutes to go in the game. His next shot, a pull-up jumper, was off slightly to the left, and in transition Maryland found Kevin Huerter who drilled a 3-pointer to give Maryland a one-point lead with 1:42 to go.When Huerter caught the ball, the entire Carrier Dome let out a collective groan. At that point, it was Huerter’s sixth 3-pointer of the night. Without him, the Terrapins shot just 25 percent from deep. He was consistently stretching SU’s 2-3 zone, and that shot could have been a dagger.But Battle had other plans. With the clock winding down toward the final minute, Battle caught the ball in the far corner, rose and knocked down a 3-pointer to give SU a 68-66 lead. Later, when UMD cut the lead to one with seven seconds to go — off a Huerter 3-pointer — Battle leaked out on an in-bounds and slammed home two more points to seal the game.Howard said that Battle could “barely walk” for most of the week because his back was hurting him. When SU needed him, though, Battle persevered.“He has to take over games like that, and he will,” Howard said. “This was a special night.” Comments Published on November 27, 2017 at 10:55 pm Contact Tomer: [email protected] | @tomer_langerlast_img read more

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