Paschal Chukwu’s career night carries Syracuse over Eastern Michigan, 62-47

first_imgPaschal Chukwu gathered himself before rising up to the basket where he was fouled by Eastern Michigan’s Ty Groce.  Syracuse’s 7-foot-2-inch center stepped to the free-throw line for his first attempts of the game having converted on 48 percent of his attempts prior to Wednesday night. When he sank the first free throw, the crowd cheered, nearly sounding surprised. A similar reaction was unleashed following his second make. Then, on the next possession, Chukwu drained two more. “That is the goal,” Chukwu said, “to be able to, you know if they are going to foul me, to make them pay, I was able to accomplish that today.”With each make, the crowd became less and less surprised as Chukwu went 9-of-11 from the free-throw line to accompany his 12 rebounds and five blocks, which led Syracuse to a 62-47 win over Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome. Entering the game Chukwu had 13 free throw makes on the year and is only a season removed from shooting 0-of-7 at the line. Against the Eagles, Chukwu set career highs in points (15), rebounds and free throws made in a single game.  It took less than 30 seconds for Chukwu to get his first block against EMU. As Tim Bond dribbled the ball into the center of the 2-3 zone, Chukwu stood tall. Bond stumbled and chucked up a shot, which Chukwu handily denied. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe registered his second block in as many possessions less than a minute later. James Thompson IV, who averages 17.3 points and 12.1 rebounds per game, leaped for a routine layup. Chukwu swatted the ball away from the rim to the hands of teammate Oshae Brissett who dashed down the court with the ball. In some instances, the big man filled voids left by his teammates. As Elijah Minnie beat Tyus Battle off the dribble, the guard cried for help. “Step up,” he yelled back to his center.Chukwu left his post on Thompson IV and leapt toward Minnie. He batted Minnie’s floater out of the air, negating a basket or potential pass to Thompson IV. Sometimes, he didn’t even need to touch the ball. Midway through the first half, Paul Jackson appeared to have an open lane. Then Chukwu stepped in. He stretched his arms at full length and stood still, forcing Jackson to work around him. Jackson mustered a weak floater and the scoring chance was gone. Chukwu says altering shots like that is just as important as blocks. “I mean that’s my job in the middle of the zone,” Chukwu said, “to make anybody that comes in the middle to think twice about a shot.” Offensively, Chukwu dominated Thompson IV, who was held without a double-double for just the third time this season. Late in the first half, Frank Howard lobbed a ball to Chukwu, who jumped for the alley-oop. Chukwu didn’t complete the highlight-reel slam but he did tip the ball just enough to flush through the net. In the second half, his offensive prowess placed Thompson IV in foul trouble. With just under 10 minutes remaining, Chukwu scooped up a rebound and upfaked toward the hoop. Thompson IV left his feet on the fake, and Chukwu launched himself into him, earning a trip to the line, where he sank both shots. Down at the other end of the court, Chukwu out-muscled Thompson IV for a rebound while fighting through an offensive foul. The Eagles center threw his arms up in disgust as he headed to the bench with only one foul to give and over nine minutes to play. “I thought Paschal was tremendous tonight,” Boeheim said. “They’ve got a very good guy in the middle, I thought he walled him up. I thought he did a great job on him.” As Syracuse clung to its lead with just over two minutes to play, it was Chukwu that provided the Orange with its last bit of insurance. Howard’s layup attempt grazed the backboard and rim before falling down to Chukwu. He swiftly placed the ball off the glass and ran back on defense. It was just another basket on a night where Chukwu scored more than he ever has.  “He was finishing everything,” Battle said. “He was knocking down free throws, had some big blocks, big rebounds. He’s just scratching the surface right now, I know going into ACC play he will just continue to get better.” Comments Published on December 27, 2017 at 11:58 pm Contact Josh: [email protected] | @Schafer_44 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *