SU men’s basketball suffers first loss of the season to UConn

SU basketball falls to UConn

The Orange couldn't seem to catch up with the Huskies in their first game of the 2K Empire Classic.
Published: November 16, 2018 | Updated: November 26th, 2018 at 11:41 am
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Alterique Gilbert drives to the hoop. UConn defeated SU at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night in the first game of the 2K Empire Classic tournament.

Another classic nail-biting finish to the Syracuse-Connecticut rivalry.

Both roaring fan bases packed the Mecca in New York City.

Syracuse kept the game close by attacking the rim, but the comeback fell short when UConn’s Alterique Gilbert and Jalen Adams converted on back-to-back 3-pointers to lead the Huskies to an 83-76 victory on Thursday night.

In their first season under Head Coach Dan Hurley, UConn stays undefeated and improves to 3-0, while Syracuse drops to 2-1.

“They had a look the last couple days like they couldn’t wait to get here and play,” Hurley said in a post-game press conference. “They went out and performed at such a high level. They got what they deserved: a great moment in the Garden.”

UConn had five players score double-figures. The Huskies tore up the Syracuse zone, shooting 49 percent from the field, including 12-for-21 from beyond the arc.

Syracuse trailed by as many as 13, but Tyus Battle knocked down a huge shot from the perimeter to cut the margin to 4 with just under four minutes remaining in the second half. The Orange got to within 5 on Jalen Carey’s 3-pointer, but the Huskies finished 7-for-9 at the foul line to seal the victory.

Most surprising was the interior dominance of UConn senior Eric Cobb, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds against the seemingly formidable Syracuse frontline.

“UConn had more heart,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. “They play hard and took advantage of our centers tonight. Defensively, we didn’t do a good job inside. And we didn’t rebound the basketball.”

The Orange were out-rebounded 46-32 by the Huskies.

When asked to touch on the positives, Boeheim remarked: “One thing that came out of this was Jalen played with a lot of poise — a tremendous game. The guys we count on to score did not play well tonight.”

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Eric Cobb dribbles past Paschal Chukwu for a lay-up.

After going scoreless in the previous game against Morehead State, freshman guard Carey led the team in scoring with 26 points on 9-14 shooting. He also had 7 boards and 3 steals.

“I’m just getting back into the flow, more comfortable each and every game,” Carey said. “I love the atmosphere and the big crowd.”

Syracuse junior Battle played all 40 minutes and scored 16 points on 7-17 shooting. Freshman Elijah Hughes added 15 on 5-14 shooting.

The Orange played without point guard Frank Howard once again. The senior, who started every game for the Orange last season, participated in practice last Friday, but isn’t expected to suit up this weekend.

SU faces No. 13 Oregon at 4:30 p.m. on Friday to close out the 2K Empire Classic.

Avatar for Brian Ho

is a contributor to The NewsHouse at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.