New York, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team got its first major test of the young season tonight, taking on former Big East rival UConn at Madison Square Garden as part of the 2K Empire Classic. While most expected a Syracuse win, UConn played tenacious defense which proved costly to a team lacking full health at the point guard position. Ultimately the Huskies defeated the Orange by a final score of 83-76.
The Orange got punched in the mouth to start the game as UConn got off to a 13-4 lead by pressuring SU into turnovers and missed shots, but SU would punch back by going on an 11-0 run thanks to an Oshae Brissett three, two three-point plays and a Tyus Battle layup.
Still, the Syracuse offense struggled mightily in the first half, shooting 30 percent from the floor, 12.5 percent from three and committing 9 turnovers. While UConn turned the ball over 12 times — a few on careless mistakes — the Huskies shot 50 percent from deep and took a 38-32 edge into the half.
After the break, UConn continued its torrid shooting from long range, making four threes in the first nine minutes by breaking down the 2-3 zone. SU fought back though and a found a pair of huge threes from Hughes and Battle down the stretch the keep the game within striking distance.
In a game of runs, UConn responded with a pair of buckets to build its lead back to nine and looked to put the contest out of reach and although SU clawed back, it was never able to whittle the game down to one possession. The Orange took better care of the ball in the second half but made too many first half errors and gave up too many threes in this one to get the victory. Connecticut closed out the game winning by three possessions.
Carey lead the way in the scoring column with 26 points while grabbing 7 rebounds, but also committed 6 turnovers. Battle finished with 16 points while Hughes had 15. The Orange shot 38.5 percent form the floor and just 27.3 percent from range while allowing UConn to shoot 12-of-21 from three.
Syracuse will play the loser of Oregon/Iowa tomorrow at at Madison Square Garden. That game tips at 4:30 pm EST.