Three big first half runs gave Syracuse enough of a cushion to withstand a persistent Connecticut squad and their own sloppiness to claim a 72-63 victory in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Orange (7-1) had bursts of 9-0, 14-2, and 7-0 to take a 17-point lead late in the first half and the Huskies (6-3) were able to creep back within seven points, but no closer.
As they have done frequently in the early season, SU owned a significant advantage in rebounding, finishing the game with a 37-26 edge, featuring 14 offensive rebounds. The Orange also forced 18 turnovers, including 11 steals.
The extra possessions from the turnovers and offensive rebounds helped offset another rough night shooting from outside, as Syracuse made only 4-of-16 three-pointers. The Orange also were often careless with the ball, giving possession away 15 times in the game, including Frank Howard’s nine miscues.
UConn grabbed their only lead of the night early at 3-2, only for SU to take off on a 9-0 run. Matthew Moyer scored inside on a feed from Frank Howard, then added a three from the left wing for the first five points. Oshae Brissett dropped in a pair of foul shots, then Tyus Battle swiped a Husky inbounds pass, bolting for a two-handed jam and an 11-3 Syracuse lead less than four minutes into the contest.
Connecticut ate away at the cushion, getting it down to three points a few minutes later. Moyer, however, jumpstarted the Orange offense by soaring in for a one-handed hammer off a Brissett miss. Bourama dropped in a pair of threes to give SU a seven-point lead.
Following two Husky foul shots, the Orange ripped off ten straight points. Howard lobbed to Brissett, who converted with a two-handed stuff. Battle followed with a lay-up, then Howard did the same. Moyer added a tap-in and Battle closed the streak with a pull-up from 17 feet for a 30-15 SU lead with under eight minutes left in the opening half.
Connecticut responded with five straight points, but Syracuse bettered that with seven straight markers. The first four points came at the charity stripe as Battle and Paschal Chukwu each made one of two, then Brissett knocked down a set. Battle then finished the burst when he buried a three from the left corner off a deft touch pass from Marek Dolezaj.
The trey gave the Orange their biggest lead of the night, a 37-20 bulge with 3:10 remaining in the first half, but UConn fought back, chipping the margin down to 40-32 just over 90 seconds into the second half.
SU responded with 15 of the next 21 points to reinstate their 17-point advantage. Chukwu had a nice series of plays, scoring five straight points, including a dunk on an inbounds play. After catching the pass, Chukwu faked a handoff to a teammate, then drove for a dunk when both Husky defenders bought the fake.
Battle closed the span with eight consecutive points for Syracuse, including a pair of threes. Less than seven minutes into the half, Battle added a pull-up from the right elbow for a 55-38 Orange lead.
UConn did not go quietly, eventually using an 8-2 run to draw within 62-54 with just under seven minutes left. Moyer made a foul shot to nudge the SU lead to nine, then Brissett snapped a streak of nearly six minutes without a field goal by dunking for a 65-54 lead.
90 seconds later, Moyer had his second emphatic putback dunk, waffling in Battle’s missed triple try for a 67-57 lead. Shortly after that, Howard beat the Huskies’ press and tossed a long pass to Moyer, whose two-handed slam was the exclamation point for the Orange with just over a minute on the clock.
For the second straight outing, Tyus Battle paced the Orange with 22 points and also added five steals on defense. Matthew Moyer had far and away the best game of his brief career at SU. The redshirt freshman, who entered the game with 17 points on the season, rolled up 18 on 7-of-9 shooting. Oshae Brissett had his fourth double-double, posting 16 points and ten rebounds. Frank Howard struggled greatly, turning the ball over nine times in addition to a 1-for-10 shooting performance from the field.
Jalen Adams matched Battle’s output, tallying 22 points for UConn. Christian Vital had 17 points while Terry Larrier added 14.
SU returns home for their next game when Colgate visits the Carrier Dome on Saturday. The Red Raiders (3-4) have dropped their last two games, but will get a chance to snap that skid on Wednesday when they play at Marist.
Four different players average double digits in scoring for Colgate, including 6’8” sophomore forward Will Rayman, who leads the Red Raiders with 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, as well as 24 three-pointers on the season. Four different players on the team have made at least ten triples thus far and the squad shoots 39.7 from beyond the arc on nearly 30 attempts per game.
Syracuse and Colgate will renew their rivalry for the 170th time at 2:00pm Eastern Saturday. The game will be televised regionally and available online at ESPN3.com.