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Syracuse and Frank Howard falter in second half as Syracuse loses 68-61 at Virginia

first_img Published on January 10, 2018 at 12:30 am Contact: jtbloss@syr.edu | @jtbloss Facebook Twitter Google+ CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. — As Frank Howard trotted back on defense after sinking one of his three first-half shots from beyond the arc, he placed a finger to his lips and shushed the Virginia fans sitting courtside in John Paul Jones Arena. They needed no such instruction. Howard’s hand was hot, and that kept them quiet early before he cooled off down the stretch in Syracuse’s (12-5, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) 68-61 loss at No. 3 Virginia (15-1, 4-0 ACC) on Tuesday night.Howard had been feeling it for weeks. Including a 3-for-4 effort from deep against Buffalo last month, he had made 18 of 33 three-pointers since then entering Tuesday. Take away a few desperation heaves at the end of halves, and that’s a percentage far greater than the 31 percent Howard shot last season as a sophomore.And with just three consistent scoring threats in Howard, sophomore guard Tyus Battle, and freshman forward Oshae Brissett, that is the Howard Syracuse needs. It is the Howard that makes the rest of Syracuse often follow suite.It is not the Howard Syracuse got on Tuesday night. At least not for 40 minutes. Howard finished with seven turnovers. He has 75 on the season. The next highest is Battle with 39.“With me being the only ball-handler out there, I kind of get to over-dribbling a little bit too much,” Howard, who dished one assist against UVA, said. “Gotta cut (turnovers) down and just be smart and strong with the ball.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEspecially during ACC play, Syracuse has gone as Howard has. He scored a team-high 18 points Tuesday, with 11 of those coming in the first half and keeping SU within three points. Then he disappeared, only showing up when he did something wrong. Howard scored just two points between the game’s midpoint and final minute. His final line was boosted by a three-pointer that fell after SU, thanks to a full-court press, showed signs of resuscitation.Earlier, Head coach Jim Boeheim pulled Howard — albeit briefly, less than a minute — after his point guard traveled twice. One of the walks came after Howard turned down a 3-pointer with plenty of space to shoot.“We can’t make these uncaused turnovers,” Boeheim said. “He started off the game with two completely unforced turnovers. You’re a junior. You’re playing 40 minutes a game. You’re in college.”Howard bounced back in that first half. He took contested shots and made them. He drove the lanes that UVA’s top-ranked defense — in terms of points allowed and adjusted efficiency, according to Kenpom — would later close. Even when he wasn’t hitting the layups, Paschal Chukwu was there to grab one of his 16 boards and clean up the miss with a putback.“I was getting to the rim, getting a shot up there,” Howard said. “It was our best offense. It’s almost like an assist.Try to make it, but if you don’t, crash the boards hard.”Eventually, they stopped falling, with Howard going 2-for-11 after intermission. Howard later praised Virginia coach Tony Bennett and his team for the help they give each other on defense. He complimented how they hedged around screens.“They were being Virginia,” he said.SU won’t face the nation’s best defense every night. But, with so few options to put points on the board, it’ll need a version of Howard closer to what it got in the first half Tuesday night to make it seem that way. Commentslast_img

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