Back On Track: Syracuse uses big second half surge to take down Arkansas State
The Syracuse University men's basketball team is back on track.
At least for the time being.
After back-to-back home, non-conference losses, the Orange took a monumental hit to their confidence.
Losses to Old Dominion and Buffalo, a pair of mid-major opponents, knocked Syracuse down in a big way.
But if you saw how the Orange rose up during last year's NCAA Tournament run, you absolutely know the current roster has a jolt of energy in them.
Turns out they saved it for the second half Saturday.
After trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, the Orange began to chip away thanks in large part to Tyus Battle and Elijah Hughes, combining for 34 points on the day.
Arkansas State's Ty Cockfield came out firing on all cylinders, knocking down a variety of jumpers while also taking it to the rim with ease.
It looked like it would be another long day against another mid-major opponent, except this one entered the Carrier Dome with a losing record.
Certainly, the Orange could not lose at home to a program like Arkansas State.
That's when things changed, as Syracuse took the 38-36 lead going into the halftime break.
From there, the Orange went on a massive second half run to put away the Red Wolves for good.
Frank Howard and Tyus Battle ran the floor midway through the second half, resulting in an alley-oop dunk and giving the crowd a reason to rise to its feet.
Syracuse may have found something with its second half performance, out-hustling its opponent to loose balls and getting out in transition.
Not to mention, Paschal Chukwu was benched for the first time this season, as Jim Boeheim decided instead to go with Marek Dolezaj at the starting center spot.
Chukwu came out with more fire, hauling in 13 rebounds on the day.
In the end, it was a 82-52 win for the Orange after a first half scare.
"There's a couple loose balls we didn't get and if we don't get those, we're not going to win this year," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim explained during his post game press conference. "I thought after that, there went out and there were a couple more loose balls and we got them, and we're going to have to get those. That's something we've got to get better at.
"Whenever you lose a game or two in a row, especially two at home, you're going to have a bit of a confidence problem, probably," Boeheim continued. "But after that start, we played pretty well."
Syracuse will be back in action on Saturday, December 29 for a 2 p.m. tip-off when St. Bonaventure visits the Carrier Dome.