Tyler Lydon can be Syracuse’s best player even when he doesn’t score

first_img Published on January 30, 2017 at 11:20 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+ In back-to-back blowout losses to North Carolina and Notre Dame, Tyler Lydon was a rare bright spot and undoubtedly Syracuse’s best player.The sophomore scored a combined 50 points in those two games, shot 67 percent from the floor and hit 56 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Despite the Orange’s downfalls against both ranked opponents, Lydon stood out because of his numbers in the scoring column.Saturday’s 82-72 win against then-No. 6 Florida State told a different tale. Lydon finished third on the team in scoring with 14 points behind Andrew White’s 24 and John Gillon’s 21. Yet the sophomore still might’ve been SU’s best player. He doesn’t always need explosive scoring nights to do that, possessing a knack to make a sizable dent on the game in other facets over the course of a full 40 minutes.“I’m looking at what really is important and he was just good on defense, he blocked shots,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s one of the best defensive players we’ve ever had in the middle, anybody. He’s really probably better than some of the great centers we’ve had because he covers more people, more ground and can still block shots.”What Boeheim referred to was Lydon’s six blocks, which tied a career-high (all six came in the first 13:13 of the game). He also grabbed 11 rebounds, which were the second most he’s tallied in a single game this season. Add on 14 points on another efficient outing from the field — 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 100 percent from the line — and Lydon was Syracuse’s most balanced player on Saturday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGranted, the most obvious contender would be White. His 24 points led Syracuse, and he also chipped in nine rebounds and four steals. But take a closer look and Lydon secured three more offensive rebounds than White for an SU team that doesn’t exactly excel in that area, committed two fewer turnovers and disrupted the Seminoles with his bevvy of blocks more than White did.Then there’s Gillon, but 13 of his 21 points came within the final three minutes, 11 of which came from the foul line.“Everybody was concerned about him playing center when he came here, but he’s really one of the best we’ve had in there,” Boeheim said. “He’s been phenomenal, and nobody’s going to give him any shots.”Lydon’s best play of the game and arguably the flashiest of his brief Syracuse career happened when he flushed home with one hand a Tyus Battle missed 3-pointer. At the time, SU only led by two with just over eight minutes left. It was the first time Florida State had cut Syracuse’s lead to two after the Orange led by 18 at half, but Lydon delivered, as Syracuse has grown accustomed to.“It was nothing because that’s what he does,” White said. “All day, every day … I was just like, ‘There he goes. Tyler Lydon.’ That’s what I knew he could do. That was a huge, huge play, just Tyler being Tyler.”“Tyler being Tyler” stretches beyond making highlight-reel plays and canning jumpers from anywhere on the court. It extends to the intangibles — the plays Syracuse has been missing but the ones it found in its biggest win of the season.“I think it really came down to our guard play. John, he was really composed down the stretch which helped out a lot,” Lydon said, “and across the board I think guys just kept their heads and played tough.”Lydon won’t pinpoint himself, especially when White is hitting from everywhere and Gillon closes out a game like he did. But the truth is, with his ability to affect the game in a myriad of ways when it matters most, Lydon can be Syracuse’s best player even when it doesn’t seem like it. Commentslast_img

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