Connecticut torched the Madison Square Garden nets on Thursday night, hitting 12-of-21 three pointers, including 8-of-13 in the second half, as they defeated #15 Syracuse in the 2K Classic, 83-76. Three of those second half triples came during a 13-2 run by the Huskies (3-0) that gave them their largest lead of the night at 13 points.
The Orange (2-1) were able to force 20 turnovers, but could not do much with those opportunities, as they made just under 40 percent of their field goals, including just 30 percent in the opening half. UConn also made up for those miscues by hammering SU on the backboards, owning a 46-32 rebounding advantage.
Connecticut used a pair of three-pointers to jump-start an 11-2 run for a 13-4 lead four-and-a-half minutes into the action. Syracuse responded with 11 straight points to vault into the lead.
Oshae Brissett started the streak with a swish on a deep three from the right wing. Elijah Hughes came up with a steal and sprinted the length of the floor for a three-point play. Jalen Carey added a three-point play of his own to knot the score and Tyus Battle’s left-handed lay-up gave the Orange a 15-13 lead.
That would prove to be the last lead of the night for SU.
UConn jumped in front and the Orange would tie them three times, but consecutive Husky baskets put them in front for good with less than eight minutes remaining in the first half. A 7-2 Connecticut run would give them a seven-point lead and they would settle for a 38-32 advantage at halftime.
After a UConn three opened the scoring in the second half, Syracuse ran off seven straight points. Paschal Chukwu connected on a pair of free throws to get the SU offense going. Hughes hit a triple from just right of the top of the key then made a steal and made a lead pass to Carey for a fast break lay-up that cut the margin to 41-39 less than three minutes out of the locker room.
The Huskies responded with a 13-2 burst that gave them their biggest lead of the night at 54-41. Hughes hit another three for SU to stop the bleeding and Brissett’s back-to-back scores, including a vicious one-handed slam on a drive, got the gap into single digits at 59-50 just before the midpoint of the second half.
Battle took a rebound the length of the court to draw SU within eight points a couple minutes later. Just under three minutes later, Hughes’ third trey of the second half pulled the Orange within 66-61. Consecutive lay-ups by the Huskies stretched the lead to nine with just under five minutes on the clock.
Carey connected on a stepback jumper and Battle stepped into a three to bring Syracuse within four at 70-66.
Alterique Gilbert and Jalen Adams each responded with deep three-pointers for Connecicut, pushing their lead back to double digits with 1:41 to go.
Battle dropped in a lay-up, but could complete the three-point play on the next SU possession and Carey added an NBA-length triple to slice the deficit to 76-71, but that was as close the Orange would get. UConn made 7-of-9 free throws in the final minute to keep SU at bay.
In his first start for the Orange, point guard Jalen Carey poured in 26 points, including hitting 7-of-8 shots after the break. Unfortunately, Carey also committed a half dozen turnovers while failing to record an assist. Tyus Battle had 11 of his 17 points in the second half and Elijah Hughes buried three second-half treys as he scored 15 points. Oshae Brissett struggled from the field, making only 3-of-15 shots as he had nine points.
Six different Huskies had at least nine points, led by Jalen Adams and Alterique Gilbert, who each had 16, the latter hitting four three-pointers. Tarin Smith poured in 14 points off the bench while fellow reserve Eric Cobb had 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Orange will wrap up their play in the 2K Classic in Friday’s consolation game against #13 Oregon. The Ducks (2-1) also lost on Thursday night, dropping a 77-69 decision to Iowa.
Four different Oregon players are averaging double figures in scoring on the season, led by 7’2” freshman center Bol Bol, who is posting averages of 16.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game on the young season. Ehab Amin led the Ducks with 25 points against Iowa, hitting 5-of-8 three-pointers in the game.
The SU-Oregon game will tip off at 4:30pm Eastern on Friday from Madison Square Garden. ESPN2 will televise the game, which will also be available online at ESPN3.com.