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Syracuse guard Jalen Carey comes home to NYC, has big performance at Madison Square Garden

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Syracuse freshman guard Jalen Carey earned his first career start and had a big night at the Garden despite taking a loss.

NCAA Basketball: Empire Classic-Connecticut at Syracuse Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange freshman guard out of New York City didn’t have enough tickets to give out family and friends. Jalen Carey — from the northernmost tip of Manhattan in Harlem — had a large contingent of people who wanted to come see him play in his hometown for his first game at Madison Square Garden.

While the Orange took an 83-76 loss to UConn, Jalen Carey was a bright spot for Jim Boeheim. He earned his first career start at Syracuse and proceeded to drop 26 points and haul in 7 rebounds at the Mecca of basketball. He did all of that as he continues to nurse a sprained ankle from the Orange vs. White scrimmage.

“Ugh it’s okay, you know. Once I get into the flow of things I really don’t feel it,” Carey said after the game. “It’s still a little pain.”

While Carey is still working back to a clean bill of health, he was still strong enough to score 26 points on 14 shots. He said the point total didn’t mean anything to him though because he wanted to win. And It wasn’t a perfect game as Carey finished with 6 turnovers — he admitted to battling some early nerves which resulted in a few lost Syracuse possessions.

But Carey was a bright spot in Syracuse’s loss. He had never officially played at MSG before UConn, but was in the building for Syracuse’s win against the Huskies last year. His dad also used to take him to New York Knicks games when former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony was still playing.

Carey and Syracuse were set up in that very same locker room that’s home to the Knicks. There, he fielded questions from reporters. Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota asked him about Alterique Gilbert — a former Syracuse recruit — getting in his ear throughout the contest.

“That pumps me up to be honest with you, I talk my smack as well,” Carey said with a smile. “That pumps me up, it gets me going.”

NCAA Basketball: Empire Classic-Connecticut at Syracuse Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

That’s about what you’d expect. After last Saturday’s game at home against Morehead State, Carey said he wanted to play with a sense of toughness that’s expected out of New Yorkers. He showed he could do that on a big stage and head coach Jim Boeheim had nothing but good things to say about his freshman guard in the post-game presser.

“I feel like everyone wants to come perform in the garden. So it definitely felt good just to play here being from New York.”

Hopefully it felt good enough to play at the garden in back-to-back nights.

For Syracuse basketball stories and updates, follow James on twitter @JamesSzuba