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Syracuse 84, Morehead State 70: Orange move to 2-0 on the season

It wasn't pretty, but the Orange remained perfect on Saturday night.

NCAA Basketball: Morehead State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange moved to 2-0 on the season with a 84-70 win over the Morehead State Eagles, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t make the Syracuse faithful sweat this one out. Syracuse’s sloppy play in the first half kept the Eagles in it, but the Orange had too much talent to let this one slip away.

Oshae Brissett was the hot hand early and often for the Orange as he scored nine quick points off of two and-one plays and a long-ball. In these first two games, Brissett has been the most dominant player on the offensive end of the floor as his versatility and athleticism have made him hard to defend.

NCAA Basketball: Morehead State at Syracuse
Turnovers were a real issue for the Orange tonight.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Brissett’s hot start was contagious for Paschal Chukwu, as the big man had some success down low against the smaller Morehead State team. Chukwu had four quick points inside, to go along with two blocks on the defensive end. At 7-foot-2, Chukwu had an easy time rebounding the ball in the first half, and was able to finish a look inside off of an offensive rebound.

With the Orange looking as if they were going to pull away in this one, the Eagles went on a 10-0 run to cut the Orange’s lead to four with 6:56 left in the first half. With the Orange needing a bucket, Elijah Hughes came through with a three-ball of his own (he finished with 21 points on the night).

Hughes’ three, however, couldn’t keep the Eagles from keeping the pressure on the Orange, as they cut Syracuse’s lead to 28-27. With the Carrier Dome getting nervous, Tyus Battle broke out of his slump, and hit two tough mid-range jumpers to keep the Orange on top. Battle started the game slow again, shooting 2-9 prior to his little hot streak. Syracuse finished the first half with 11 turnovers, a large reason as to why they took just a 36-30 lead into the half.

NCAA Basketball: Morehead State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

In the second half, Buddy Boeheim got his first official collegiate three to fall, which answered an initial Eagles three after the intermission. The Orange improved their sloppy play to start the second half, as they took care of the ball and were attacking the rim.

Battle and Hughes were able to get to the rim more efficiently, which either led to strong finishes inside or free throw opportunities for Syracuse. If the Orange are going to get over their shooting woes, they’ll need to get easy chances around the rim to help them see the ball go through the hoop.

Every time Syracuse would seem as if they were pulling away, Morehead State would keep the game within striking distance. Jordan Walker led the way for the Eagles with 24 points. However, Battle’s strong second half was too much for the Eagles, as Syracuse’s leader seemed to have found his rhythm on the offensive end (he finished the game with 23 points).

NCAA Basketball: Morehead State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Battle led the way in the scoring column with 23 points while Elijah Hughes finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Brissett was a bit quiet in the second half, but the sophomore forward finished the game with his first double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

The Orange need to play better than they did tonight if they want to win the games that truly matter, and they’ll look to improve on tonight’s sloppy performance against the UConn Huskies at Madison Square Garden Thursday night.