Men's basketball

Iseman: Triche shows his value to Syracuse offensively in win over Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In between James Southerland’s heroics from beyond the arc and Michael Carter-Williams’ brilliant ascension to topline point guard, Brandon Triche has been Syracuse’s reliable leader.

Triche is the key to the Orange’s success. He’s the glue to the offense and has the ability to step up in big situations. Triche is a senior and has the experience to take over, and he knows when he needs to do that. He scored 10 straight points, making two huge 3-pointers on Friday against Arkansas that the Orange desperately needed in order to maintain its lead in an eventual 91-82 victory.

On a night when Southerland scored 35 points and hit nine 3s, Triche’s two from deep stood out.

“I thought the big key was Brandon as a 35 percent career 3-point shooter and he was I think 2-for-20 probably I think going into those two that he made,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s got to make those shots for us to be effective. He’s got to be able to step up and do that.”

Against Arkansas on Friday, Triche showed how much the Orange depends on him. Because in situations where Syracuse needs to score, Triche comes through. The Razorbacks kept it close for much of the game, and even though Southerland was effortlessly knocking down 3-pointers, the game was still a fight pretty much until the very end.

And playing to the end against a press like Arkansas’ is a challenge mentally and physically. Triche played a total of 31 minutes and never seemed to lose energy in a game Boeheim said his players had to keep their energy level up.

“It’s tough, it’s physical. It’s a physical game.” Boeheim said. “But if you can’t play in those situations where you’re tired then you’re not going to make it. There’s no such thing as being tired in a game like that. You’ve got to keep playing.”

And Triche did.

Almost eight minutes into the second half, Arkansas pulled to within five. The Razorbacks were threatening as their fans grew louder and louder. Southerland was on the bench because of foul trouble. So keeping Arkansas at bay meant Triche needed to take over.

And he did.

He first stole the ball from Razorbacks guard Rashad Madden and raced up the court to convert the fast-break layup that put Syracuse up 61-54. Then Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell made a layup that brought the Razorbacks to within five again.

Triche responded with a 3-pointer. And then 22 seconds later, he hit another one from the top of the key. After a timeout, Arkansas’ Rickey Scott missed a jumper from the right corner and the Orange grabbed the rebound. Triche hit a fast-break jumper to put Syracuse up 13.

“I knocked down a few shots,” Triche said. “It gave me a little bit of energy.”

That’s how Syracuse broke the Razorbacks’ smothering full-court press. The Orange upped its own defensive intensity and got out in transition. Triche took the lead.

It was an 8-2 run in a span of 2:28 that Triche dominated. A stretch where Syracuse needed him the most with Arkansas closing in.

“He needs to do that. He needs to do that more,” Boeheim said. “Brandon needs to take the ball in those situations.”

Triche has been hot and cold from the field, and he admitted as much after the game on Friday. He said Southerland is making up for both his and Trevor Cooney’s poor shooting so far this season.

But Triche is still averaging a team-leading 15.6 points per game. He’s also played more minutes than anyone else on the team. He’s accepted his role of shooting guard with the starting point guard job going to the sophomore Michael Carter-Williams.

At both ends of the floor, he’s capable of doing damage. Aside from his 17 points on offense against Arkansas, he had four steals on defense.

Coming into the season, Triche was expected to take on a leadership role after Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph graduated. Triche is the most experienced player on the floor for Syracuse, and he’s taken on his role perfectly.

“Just us being seniors, me, trying to help the team as much as I can,” Triche said. “Trying to help out there, being one of the leaders.”

Chris Iseman is an asst. sports editor at The Daily Orange where his column appears occasionally. He can reached at cjiseman@syr.edu or on Twitter @chris_iseman. 

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