Orange Watch: Syracuse basketball’s history with 2022 Empire Classic foes

Nov 14, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim speaks to the media following SU's 75-60 win over Drexel at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jim Stechschulte/The Juice Online.

Item: Playing in tropical locales such as the Bahamas last season and with a trip scheduled to Maui next season, Syracuse will instead decamp to the familiar urban landscape of downtown Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for this year’s in-season, pre-conference tournament in November (21-22), facing some past foes in the Empire Classic.

As of June 13, there have been seven non-conference games announced for the 2022-23 Syracuse basketball schedule, plus one exhibition game. Still to be determined is the game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge series, plus five other non-league games and one more exhibition contest, along with the dates/times of the 20 ACC matchups.

This year’s ‘Cuse early season tournament is one of three (Legends Classic and Hall of Fame Invitational) to be contested at Barclays Center, with the first evening pairings involving SU, Richmond, St. John’s and Temple still to be revealed.

The Orange has played a total of 125 previous games against the Spiders (4 games), the Red Storm (91 games) and the Owls (30 games). Here’s a capsule look (in alphabetical order) at selected prior meetings against the trio:

Richmond – The first-ever NCAA Tournament game in which a #15 seed defeated a #2 seed will always be a black mark on the Syracuse program. The 1991 meeting at Maryland’s Cole Field House had the wrong tilt from the opening tipoff to the painful end (SU never led in the game), delighting the pro-Richmond crowd on hand, and entertaining the huge CBS TV audience as the network switched the late game to most of the nation with the upset in motion.

Few remember that it was a trying week for Jim Boeheim leading up to the Thursday game, meeting with internal SU investigators about potential NCAA violations within the program (which eventually led to a ban from 1993 postseason play), and dealing with the suspension and reinstatement of Conrad McRae before the first-round game.

Syracuse has not lost to Richmond since that ’91 shocker, defeating the Spiders three times including the 2002 NIT, the last time in 2008 when Jonny Flynn poured in 27 points in a 76-71 final at the Dome.

St. John’s – A forgotten element to the first season of Big East play in 1979-80 was that after Syracuse’s 57-game homecourt winning streak was famously snapped by Georgetown in the final game played at Manley Field House (discounting the 1994 NIT season opener at Manley in which George Washington upset SU in overtime 111-104), the Orangemen went on the road and won their final three regular season games to cap a 24-2 record. It began with an emotional 72-71 win at Alumni Hall against St. John’s four days after the Hoyas shocker, highlighted by 29 points and 17 rebounds from Louis Orr.

The most disappointing loss to SJU was no doubt the 1986 Big East final when Walter Berry blocked Pearl Washington’s game-winning layup just before the Madison Square Garden buzzer went off sealing a 70-69 defeat.

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St. John’s has actually won the last three games in the series (2014-16), the most recent a brutal 93-60 outcome in ’16 in the Dome, the largest margin of defeat in the building, and a game in which the home crowd booed their beloved Orange team off the court at the end.

Temple – The SU-Temple all-time series is unusual in that the teams met 15 times between 1942-1953, then didn’t play again until facing off once every season between 1969-1980, and have met just three times since then from 1989-2012.

The 1989 Carrier Classic championship game in the Dome is one in which we had the pleasure of serving as the color commentator on the statewide radio network broadcast alongside current Cincinnati Bengals/UC Bearcats play-play voice Dan Hoard (later that evening eastern time, Syracuse football played Louisville in Tokyo). The Orange defeated John Chaney’s Owls 73-56 to win the ‘Classic,’ as Billy Owens scored 21 points and Derrick Coleman pulled down 16 boards.

Temple won the two most recent meetings between the teams, both sour-tasting defeats played at Madison Square Garden – the 2002 NIT consolation game (65-54) and 2012 Gotham Classic (83-79). The latter marked the fifth straight year an unranked Temple team knocked off a Top 10 team as the Orange came into the late December game 10-0 and ranked No. 3.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.