Syracuse stops slide, knocks off No. 7 UConn

Syracuse avoided the first-ever five game losing streak in the Jim Boeheim era with a 66-58 road victory Wednesday night over the No. 7 Connecticut Huskies.

In the first half it was a seemingly familiar story for the Syracuse men’s basketball team, as SU struggled with poor defense and some bad shots. The Orange missed their first six shots, committed four fouls and turned the ball over three times before finally scoring their first points of the night. Syracuse rebounded though, and went on to grab its first win at Connecticut since 1997, 66-58.

“When they came back at us we made a play." – SU head coach Jim Boeheim

Early on, it looked like the team was headed to its fifth straight conference loss of the season and the first five game losing streak of SU head coach Jim Boeheim’s career. The Orange didn’t score until the 14:23 mark in the first half and missed their first six shots from beyond the arc.

The turning point came at the end of the half after the Orange had fought back to within one. With 2.3 seconds left before the break, Brandon Triche inbounded the ball over a flailing Connecticut defender to Rick Jackson whose hook shot rolled around and in as the buzzer sounded.

The defense and shooting improved in the second half and the Orange held off two late UConn charges to hold on for the win. In an ESPN postgame interview Boeheim pointed to his team’s recent struggles.

“You could tell we’re not used to winning lately,” he said. “It’s tough when you lose three or four games.”

Jackson finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the year. After the game, Boeheim praised his senior forward, calling him, “a warrior”.

Jackson in turn pointed to the performance of freshman back-up center Baye Moussa Keita. Keita played a career-high 27 minutes, and had 11 rebounds, six steals and two blocks to add to his four points.

“It was real big, that’s the type of effort we’re going to need from him,” Jackson said in a postgame radio interview. “He did a great job tonight.”

The only thing that kept the Orange in the game in the first half was poor shooting by the Huskies, which shot only 29 percent from the floor. Syracuse elbowed itself back into the game with some key rebounds and poor ball handling by the Huskies, who had 14 turnovers on the night.

During the second half, both teams went on several runs. Syracuse opened the half with a 10-4 run before UConn tied the game at 36. Syracuse responded with a 10-1 run but the Huskies wouldn’t go away and bounced back with an 8-2 to pull within three with 8:39 to play.

It all seemed in danger of unraveling for the Orange as Connecticut’s Charles Okwandu made a tip shot to cut the Cuse lead to one with 4:56 left.

After a Syracuse timeout though, Triche hit his second 3-pointer of the night for the Orange and Connecticut never seriously threatened after that point.

“When they came back at us we made a play,” Boeheim said.

The nation’s second-leading scorer, junior Kemba Walker struggled against the 2-3 zone, tallying only eight points in 38 minutes.

The Huskies also refused to look down low and attack the center of the zone once Jackson took over in the middle of the paint.

Triche played a big role in the victory, keeping the Orange in the game several times with clutch shots, including three shots in the opening minutes of the second half. He finished with 16 points, three rebounds and only one turnover.

Freshmen C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters both made their presence felt. Waiters, who has struggled lately, had nine points and three steals in 17 minutes. Fair provided an even greater spark, grabbing three offensive rebounds and scoring six points, nearly all on second chance opportunities.

UConn freshman Jeremy Lamb led all scorers with 22 points. The Huskies shot only 36 percent from the field overall and hit only 8-of-23 from beyond the arc.

From Shenendehowa...

This is some nice work to pass the time while we read how the game shook out from study hall here at the home of the Plainsmen.

For some reason there is a woman here that told me that this was the ebst way to get caught up on this one because I missed the game live last night.

She was right.

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