The UConn Huskies made far too many mistakes and got dominated in the paint in a dismal loss to the Syracuse Orange, 72-63. The game took place at Madison Square Garden as the nightcap of this year’s Jimmy V Classic.
UConn’s offense (predictably) struggled against the Syracuse zone, but perhaps the extent to which the Huskies did was surprising. They committed 14 first-half turnovers, which combined with excessive fouls and poor rebounding for an 11-point Orange lead at the break. Syracuse finished the game +11 in rebounding margin, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds, meaning the Orange got an extra possession after almost half of their misses. That is bad, UConn big men.
The Huskies cut into the lead a few times in the second half, but couldn’t fully capitalize on some opportunities afforded to them by Syracuse. There was a moment late in the game where it seemed like UConn was making a run to tighten this up but it fell flat. Scoring guard Tyus Battle (22 points, 5 steals, 3 assists), and big men Oshae Brissett (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Matthew Moyer (18 points on 7-9 FG, 8 rebounds) were just too much.
Jalen Adams led the Huskies with 22 points and had a pretty good shooting night. But the Huskies’ next leading scorers, Christian Vital (17 points) and Terry Larrier (14) both went 4-11 from the field. Eric Cobb was next with six points along with five rebounds but he fouled out with 8:16 left in the game. Only two other players scored for the Huskies, as Antwoine Anderson and Mamadou Diarra combined for four points.
This is not a great Syracuse team, not a bad one either, but obviously it’s a step up from Monmouth and Columbia, and they absolutely outclassed UConn in this game. They had better guard play and were far better in the frontcourt. It’s a disappointing effort for a Husky team that showed flashes but makes too many bad decisions to beat decent teams. There are understandable challenges to playing without point guard Alterique Gilbert, but no matter what his status is the rest of the way, this team needs to gel quickly or risk having another disappointing season.
UConn is in action next on Saturday with a game against Coppin State at 2 p.m. in Gampel Pavilion. It will be the Huskies’ final outing before finals, after which they’ll take on Arizona on the road on December 21.