Tyler Roberson stifles Miami inside, scores 9 points in season-high 35 minutes
Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo Editor
Jim Boeheim’s doghouse is where once promising careers can fall and never return, and it looked like Tyler Roberson was on his way to being the next occupant of the head coach’s cellar.
There was a seven-game span in which Roberson, he of 14 points and 20 rebounds at Duke last season, played less than 20 minutes in six of those games and only topped that total in a 48-point win against Eastern Michigan.
What has followed is a brief revival, mostly because Taurean Thompson severely lacks on the defensive end. Roberson, on the other hand, gives Boeheim a much stronger defensive presence in the paint. In Wednesday night’s 70-55 Syracuse (9-6, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) win over Miami (11-3, 1-1), Roberson helped stifle the Hurricanes on the interior, as the visitors only hit 10 shots in the paint. The senior also chipped in nine points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
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“Taurean’s still not good in the middle of the zone yet. He’s struggling in there. Tyler’s better in there,” Boeheim said. “Tyler Roberson’s our best defensive forward, so it was just a defensive maneuver.”
Any offensive contributions are an added bonus by Syracuse’s standards, and the senior has averaged 10 points in the past two games. He opened his account Wednesday with a two-handed flush, the latest installment of highlight-worthy dunks that have become standard in the last three games.
Roberson also worked the pick-and-roll effectively with John Gillon, who operated the offense exclusively for the first time all season while Frank Howard played a mere 65 seconds at the end of the first half. On one sequence, Roberson rolled after setting a screen and Gillon evaded two defenders before slipping a bounce pass to the senior for a wide-open reverse layup.
“He came out, he played great, a ton of energy,” sophomore forward Tyler Lydon said of Roberson. “Just being physical and strong, that’s what we need him to do.”
Though Syracuse grabbed only five offensive rebounds to Miami’s 12, there may not have been one more important than a Roberson tip following a Tyus Battle missed 3-pointer. The ball fell to a wide-open Lydon, who dunked it to put Syracuse up 59-47. Several possessions later, Roberson intercepted a pass from Davon Reed to start Syracuse the other way.
His contributions, aside from a rim-rocking dunk or two, won’t be anything emphatic. With the time he’s given, Roberson will blend into the game rather than stand out.
“When I’m out there I try to help however I can and today was defensively,” Roberson said. “It’s my fourth year in the zone, so I know it really well.”
Thompson played only four minutes and 20 seconds in the first half after picking up two early fouls, but he was pulled 40 seconds into the second half for a miscue on the other end following an offensive goaltending call. Animated for the rest of the game, Thompson sat toward the front of Syracuse’s sideline as his recent offensive prowess wasn’t needed.
On this night, Syracuse thrived defensively and it needed a player who could bring what the Orange has lacked for most of this season. And for 35 minutes on Wednesday, that player was Tyler Roberson.
Published on January 4, 2017 at 11:32 pm