The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team closed out the 2K Empire Classic the same way they started it: with a loss. SU fell to the Oregon Ducks by a score of 80-65, as Syracuse struggled to get much offense going in this one. It’s early in the season, but the Orange now stand at 2-2 and will look to regroup as they try to bounce back from their recent struggles.
Jalen Carey continued on his great performance last night with five quick points in the early part of the first half (he finished with 14 points). With the Orange struggling to get any offense going from the perimeter, Carey was able to knock down a corner three to keep them in it.
Despite Carey’s early success, Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett were hesitant to get any offense going from the perimeter. The two leading scorers for the Orange combined for six points on 1-10 shooting from the field in the first half. Oregon was set up in a 2-3 zone, which limited the amount of space for Battle and Brissett to create off the dribble (Battle finished the game with 17.
With the Ducks opening up a 23-16 lead, the stagnant Syracuse offense was looking lost. However, a couple Oregon turnovers gave the Orange some transition opportunities, helping them cut the lead to one on a 6-0 run.
With the Orange down just 23-22, the game looked to be back in reach—that thought changed quickly. The Ducks held the Orange scoreless for the final 4:11 minutes of the first half, as they scored 12 points of their own to take a 35 -22 lead into halftime.
The story of the game for the Ducks was Bol Bol, the star freshman who gave the Orange fits on both ends of the floor. At 7’2”, Bol’s size at the high post was too much to handle, as his soft shooting touch and ability to finish inside was successful all game long (he finished with 26 points).
With the Orange needing a hot start to the second half, Elijah Hughes stepped up in a big way. Hughes scored seven quick points to help the Orange trim the lead to eight (39-31). Hughes hit a deep ball and was able to get to the line by keeping the Oregon defense on its toes (he finished the game with 14 points).
However, similarly to the first half, the Ducks answered the Orange’s run with one of their own; Oregon got hot from deep and recreated their double-digit lead by stretching it to 49-34. Syracuse became stagnant on offense again, and with the Oregon defense forcing long possessions for the Orange, Syracuse was left hoisting up tough shots with the shot clock ticking down.
With all hope seeming to be lost, Syracuse answered with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the score to 49-41. The Orange implemented the press, which created turnovers and open shots inside the paint.
It was too little too late for the Orange, as Oregon wouldn’t let Syracuse creep in closer than eight points. The shooting struggles continued for the Orange, and the Ducks maintained their successful penetration of the Syracuse 2-3 zone.
The Orange will look to bounce back from this loss on Wednesday at the Carrier Dome as they take on the Colgate Raiders.