Player of the Week
Tyus Battle, Syracuse Orange
On Saturday, Battle’s late go-ahead bucket lifted Syracuse to a 72-71 victory against Georgetown. There were five lead changes in the final three minutes between the two former Big East conference rivals. The Syracuse star fueled the Orange’s come from behind win. Although Battle struggled with a rare shooting slump in the first 20 minutes, the 6-foot-6 junior scored 21 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 26. The Hoyas led by as many as 15 points, but Battle made key plays—steals, jumpers, free throws—down the stretch to lead his team to their fifth straight victory. With 1:32 remaining on the clock, Battle drained a three to give the Orange a two point edge. The Hoyas answered right back with a three-pointer to reclaim the lead. With ten seconds remaining, the Hoyas knew that the ball would be in Battle’s hands for last shot. It didn’t matter; Georgetown was unable to stop the red hot 205-pound guard. Battle hit a pull-up jumper right inside the 3-point line with 2.5 seconds left to seal the game.
In addition to his 26 points, Battle recorded 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 assists. In his three years wearing a Syracuse uniform, Battle has been a playmaker in plenty of game-pressure situations ranging from huge comebacks to buzzer beaters. Once again, with a game on the line, the junior was the elite finisher that Syracuse desperately needed. With help from Battle, the Orange snapped their long-time rivals’ four-game winning streak and are on the right track in time for ACC play.
Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles are on a three-game winning streak after falling six points short to reigning National Champion Villanova. Florida State’s winning streak is highlighted by a top-25 victory against Purdue and a solid road win at Uconn. The Seminoles are led by senior guard, Terance Mann, who contributed seven points to the team’s 10-1 run to start the second half against the Huskies. Florida State plays with a stifling defense and attacks the basket well, which has propelled the team to an impressive 8-1 record.
For the first time in Jim Larrañaga’s career as Miami’s head coach, his team is in the midst of a four-game losing skid. This past week, the Hurricanes fell short to Ivy League opponents in Yale and Penn. For a team that had five players averaging double-digits in its early season games has been unable to find that same consistency in the losing streak. Perhaps, a factor in the Hurricanes’ slump is the lack of one of Miami’s best big men—Dewan Hernandez. The junior has yet to step foot on the court this season as his eligibility is being reviewed by the NCAA. Luckily, the Canes have nearly two weeks off to reassess their game plan in what should be a win against Houston Baptist.
Cameron Reddish, Duke
The five star frosh proved to be a prolific three-point shooter and gifted scorer in Duke’s first five games. While the talent is evident, Reddish has showed many signs of youth in the past several weeks. In his last two games facing Hartford and Yale, the 6-foot-8 forward is 6 of 24 from the field. Reddish—who has converted on only 1 of his last 14 three-point attempts—has also been careless with the ball, tallying 16 turnovers in the Blue Devils’ past five games. The Blue Devils will need Reddish to be on his A-game against their upcoming opponents, one of which includes 13th-ranked Texas Tech. If Reddish is able to find his shooting rhythm, the Blue Devils will be the toughest team to beat.
Top Five ACC Notes
What to keep an eye on as conference play approaches:
1. Non-Conference Success: So far, ACC teams hold a 10-8 record (.556) against non-conference ranked opponents, with seven different teams capturing at least one win. All upcoming games against non-league ranked teams: UNC/Gonzaga, UNC/Kentucky, Louisville/Kentucky, Duke/Texas Tech, Syracuse/Buffalo, NC State/Auburn
2. Duke’s Defense: The Blue Devils have blocked 10 or more shots in four games this season, leading the country with 7.5 blocked shots per game. For the first time since 2005, Duke is on its way to lead the conference in blocks. Marques Bolden and Zion Williamson are each averaging 2 or more blocks per contest and combine for 41 blocked shots this season.
3. Eagles’ Elite Scorer: Boston College’s point guard, junior Ky Bowman, has scored in double figures in an ACC best 17-consecutive contests. In eight of those 17 games, the NBA prospect has scored 20 or more points.
4. Louisville’s Depth: The Cardinals’ bench is averaging 35.1 points per game, leading the conference in bench scoring. Louisville ranks second in the league in bench scoring margin at +18.5 points per game, behind the NC State Wolfpack (+18.7).
5. Panthers’ Prodigy: Guard Xavier Johnson is the first Pittsburgh freshman to start a season scoring double figures in ten consecutive games. The 6-foot-3 freshman is averaging 16.8 points and 4.9 assists per game, ranking 10th and 3rd in the conference, respectively. On Saturday, Johnson scored a team-high 21 points in a tough road loss at West Virginia.