With DaJuan Coleman shelved with a minor knee injury, Jerami Grant was promoted to the staring lineup for the first time at Syracuse. The sophomore forward responded well, scoring nine of the first 11 points of the day and 11 in the first 6:30 of the game for the Orange (13-0), who cruised past Eastern Michigan at the Carrier Dome, 70-48.
In fact, Grant was not the only post player to have a good scoring day SU. The three starting frontcourt players combined for 43 points on the day and, led by those forwards, the Orange rolled up a 40-18 advantage in points in the paint.
As it has some many times in the past, however, SU’s 2-3 zone was the team’s backbone, holding the Eagles (7-5) to a 31.5 percent shooting day, including 25 percent from three-point range. That defense also forced 18 turnovers and converted them into 23 points in the game.
After Eastern Michigan took their lone lead of the game at 3-2, Jerami Grant did all the heavy lifting in the next three minutes for Syracuse, going on a personal 9-0 run to put the Orange up by eight points less than five minutes into the game. After an EMU three stopped Grant’s spree, SU posted seven straight points for an 18-6 lead with just 6:30 off the clock.
EMU got back within ten points, but Syracuse then ripped off ten straight points, highlighted by a pair of dunks from Rakeem Christmas. The last two points, which came on a pair of Tyler Roberson free throws coming out of the under-eight media time out, put the hosts on top, 30-10.
Eastern Michigan owned the remainder of the opening half, outscoring SU 17-6 before the intermission to get within 36-27 at the break.
The Eagles continued their strong play in the opening two minutes after the break, shaving the margin to 37-32, but the Orange came back to life, posting three separate runs of seven straight points in the next ten minutes.
The first 7-0 run put Syracuse up a dozen and the second extended their lead to 51-37. When the third wrapped up with just under eight minutes on the clock, SU held a 58-39 advantage. EMU whittled the margin to 60-45, but the Orange ripped off eight straight points to take their biggest lead of the game at 68-45 with 2:44 to play.
Jerami Grant cooled off after his hot start, but still finished with 15 points, tying Rakeem Christmas for tops on the Orange. Christmas was ultra-efficient, knocking down 7-of-8 shots on the day. C.J. Fair dropped in 13 points and tied Grant with eight rebounds to lead the team. Trevor Cooney added ten points and his backcourt mate, Tyler Ennis, while held scoreless, handed out nine assists and collected three steals.
Glenn Bryant led the Eagles on offense, making 8-of-11 field goals en route to a game-high 19 points. Raven Lee was the only other EMU player in double figures, finishing with a dozen points, all on three-point shots.
With their non-conference schedule now behind them, the Orange will have their first game in ACC play on Saturday when they host Miami (Fla.). The Hurricanes (8-5) will carry a three-game win streak into the contest, but have struggled on the offensive end, averaging only 65 points per game on the season on 42.4 percent shooting from the field. While five players average over 8.8 points per game, UM’s top scorer, Rion Brown, posts 13.8 points per outing.
Tip-off is slated for 2:00pm Eastern and the game will be televised by the ACC Network, so please check your local listings.
The game will also be available online at ESPN3.com or through the WatchESPN app.