The Syracuse Orange got their season off to the start they wanted with a 66-34 win over the Eastern Washington Eagles. The Eagles kept it close to start the game, but the Orange were able to separate themselves with swarming defense, throwing on the press in the first half.
Syracuse used the same starting five they used in exhibition play, and the winning trend continued. Marek Dolezaj came off the bench and hit two early jumpers, one of them being a three, to help the Orange offense find a rhythm on the offensive end and breakdown the Eagles defense.
While Dolezaj started the run for the Orange, it was Oshae Brissett who kept it going and let the Syracuse faithful know he worked hard this summer. Not only did the dynamic athlete have two monster dunks, but he was shooting the ball with confidence and attacking the rim like he does so well. With Tyus Battle playing out of position due to Frank Howard’s absence, Brissett stepped up in a massive way (20 points), leading the Orange to their first victory of the season.
Syracuse was able to force turnovers in the press and get some easy buckets, but the offense struggled at times. Jalen Carey and Howard Washington made their return from injury in this one, and their presence at the point showed. Carey is as fast a guard the Orange have seen as of late, and his speed and athleticism is sure to help this offense score in transition.
Tyus Battle struggled to find his rhythm in the first half, as he shot just 1-7 from the floor (8 points on 3-10 shooting overall). Battle isn’t a natural point guard, but despite his struggles scoring the ball, he was still able to push the ball up the floor at times and the Orange went into the half up 28-10.
Syracuse kept the press on after made baskets into the second half. The Orange’s length was too much for the Eagles’ guards and it led to easy dunk after easy dunk. The Eagles aren’t the best team the Orange are going to face this year, but getting easy baskets buoyed the offense. Brissett kept his strong first half going into the second half, as he was the main beneficiary from the countless steals in the press.
Buddy Boeheim got his first collegiate bucket to fall in the second half off of the press on an and-one finish. Boeheim struggled to shoot the ball in this one, but his sheer confidence to shoot the ball kept the Eagles’ defense honest, allowing for driving lanes to open up for Battle and Brissett.
Coach Jim Boeheim was subbing Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe in-and-out depending on who was playing better in the zone, but the two big men ended up combining for 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks on the night.
Syracuse still has room to improve, but it’s always good to get your season started off with a win. The Orange will look to make it a 2-0 start this Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. ET against the Morehead State Eagles in the Carrier Dome.