Wednesday night, #6 Syracuse turned in a poor offensive performance and were rewarded for it with a 66-58 loss in their final Big East matchup against rival Connecticut in Hartford. The Orange (20-4, 8-3 Big East) shot only 35.4 percent in the game and could not get their transition game going, carding a grand total of zero fast break points against the Huskies (17-6, 7-4). The SU defense was equally as shaky as their offense, permitting the hosts to make 46.7 percent of their field goals, including 57.1 percent from three-point range. Perhaps most troubling for Syracuse was their reliance on the three-point shot on offense, as they made a mere 4-of-23 of their hoists from deep, including a 0-for-14 performance from players other than James Southerland.
The game was tightly contested throughout the first half and Connecticut took the first three-point lead of the night at 8-5 just after the game was five minutes old. The Orange struck back by tallying a half dozen consecutive points to take an 11-8 lead. The Huskies responded to regain the lead and neither side led by more than a deuce for the rest of the half until UConn went up 24-21 with just over two minutes left, then later closed the half with a basket and a buzzer-beating trey to take a 29-24 lead at the break.
SU came out of the break clicking and needed just over two minutes to score the first six points of the second half for a 30-29 lead. The Huskies struck back with a pair of threes to go up 35-30. Syracuse responded with five points to erase the lead, but UConn put up a pair of field goals to go up 39-35 just over seven minutes into the half. The Orange scored on their next two possessions, including getting a three-pointer, to take the lead for the final time at 40-39. The Huskies closed a 10-2 run with seven straight points to take a 49-42 lead with 8:29 remaining. Connecticut gradually nudged their lead out to eight, nine, and finally ten points at 59-49 with just under four minutes to go. SU was only able to get within six points on two occasions before the final horn sounded.
Michael Carter-Williams was the top scorer for the Orange, finishing with 15 points. He also collected a game-high four steals. James Southerland added 14 points, doing most of his work from behind the arc as he hit four three-pointers. C.J. Fair chipped in with ten points. Rakeem Christmas blocked three shots on the night. Brandon Triche had a gruesome shooting night, making only 3-of-15 shots and missing all seven of his triples.
SU is on the road this weekend, as well, when they take on Seton Hall on Saturday. The Pirates (13-12, 2-10) are in a tailspin, having dropped their last six games and ten of 11 overall. The game will start at 8:00pm.Jim Stechschulte