On a night when points were at an absolute premium, Syracuse gave up an 11-point second half lead, including permitting 14 straight points, en route to losing to Connecticut at Madison Square Garden in New York City, 52-50. The Huskies (4-4) made 31.4 percent of their field goal attempts, the better of the two teams, and got a pair of free throws by freshman Christian Vital with 2.2 seconds remaining to pull out the win. The foul shots were Vital’s only points of the night.
The third loss in four games dropped the Orange dropped to 5-3 on the season and brought questions about their offensive quality against strong opponents to the forefront once more. SU shot 25.9 percent from the floor, including 23.1 percent on three-pointers. That latter number was buoyed by Syracuse making 5-of-13 triples in the second half.
The Huskies got on the board first, but DaJuan Coleman zipped a cross-court pass to Tyus Battle for a three and a 3-2 Orange lead.
That was the last score for nearly five minutes, but Andrew White III sank a pair of foul shots to nudge the lead to 5-2, then Tyler Roberson got a lay-up off a John Gillon steal for a five-point lead. After a Battle foul shot, SU led by six, but UConn ended a 6:40 drought with a pair of scores to get with a deuce, then later took a 12-11 lead just before the midpoint of the opening half.
Taurean Thompson and Tyler Lydon combined for the game’s next five points to put Syracuse on top once more. The Orange offense again went on the skids, allowing the Huskies to retake the lead at 19-17 with under 4:30 left in the first half.
White knotted the score with a difficult fadeaway from beyond the left elbow, then Lydon dropped in two foul shots to put SU in front once more. Connecticut tied the game, but Frank Howard set up Coleman for a lay-in just before the half ended to put Syracuse in front, 23-21, at halftime.
After each team got a triple to start the scoring in the second half, the Orange posted their only sustained offense in the game, running off an 11-2 run. Battle started the burst by rattling in a three from the right wing and Coleman added a putback and a pair of foul shots around a Husky bucket. White closed the streak with a foul shot and a swished three for a 37-26 SU lead less than seven minutes into the half.
UConn came fighting back, using a 9-3 run to pull back within 40-35 under three minutes later. Howard fended off that run with a pair of swishes from the charity stripe and Coleman rattled home a 12-footer to boost the Syracuse lead to nine points.
Coleman’s good fortune was the last Orange score in a span of six-and-a-half minutes. Meanwhile, the Huskies got rolling on offense, getting a trio of triples for the bulk of a 14-0 run that gave them a 49-44 lead with under three minutes on the clock.
Coleman ended the dry streak with a mid-range jumper with 2:30 to play, then neither team scored for a couple minutes. Howard made the front end of a one-and-one with 22 seconds left to break the scoreless stretch, bringing SU within 49-47. The back end miss was rebounded by Connecticut and White III committed a foul to stop the clock.
The Huskies got one free throw to go up by three, but White III erased that gap by coming off a curl and drilling a long trey from the right wing with nine seconds on the clock.
Connecticut’s Rodney Purvis rushed a three-pointer that fell short, but the rebound came to teammate Christian Vital under the basket and he was fouled with 2.2 seconds to play. Vital made both foul shots, leaving the Orange to throw a long inbounds pass to try to tie the game or take the lead. The Huskies deflected the pass and recovered the loose ball, sealing the win.
Andrew White III led SU with 14 points, but shot 4-of-15 from the field to get there. DaJuan Coleman was a bull inside, posting a ten-point, 16-rebound double-double, the latter mark registering as a personal best. Tyus Battle and Tyler Lydon each added seven points for the Orange.
Connecticut’s Rodney Purvis led all scorers with 21 points while Jalen Adams contributed 16 points and seven assists. Kentan Facey pulled in 13 boards for the Huskies to go with his seven points.
The Orange have several days to regroup before hosting Boston University on Saturday in a matinee at the Carrier Dome. The Terriers stand 4-4 on the season and will host Canisius on Wednesday prior to their trip to Syracuse. Boston will carry a three-game losing streak into that mid-week game.
The action from the Dome will start at noon Eastern and will be available online at ESPN3.com.