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Takeaways from UConn Men’s Basketball’s Upset Over No. 15 Syracuse

The Huskies jumped back onto the national stage with a big win over their arch-rivals.

NCAA Basketball: Empire Classic-Connecticut at Syracuse Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Dan Hurley Era couldn’t be off to a better start at UConn. The Huskies are 3-0 and defeated the hated Syracuse Orange at Madison Square Garden, 83-76.

Here are our takeaways from the win:

UConn Proved They’re For Real

It took all of three games for Hurley to get his first big win as head coach of the Huskies. UConn took down No. 15 Syracuse, not just an arch-rival but also the first win over a ranked opponent since a 68-62 win over SMU on Feb. 18, 2016. From that game to Cuse, the Huskies lost 15-straight games against ranked opponents.

And it wasn’t as if UConn stole a win, they controlled the game from the opening tip. They out-rebounded the Orange 46-32 — 13 of which came on the offense glass for the Huskies. UConn also penetrated the vaunted Syracuse zone to the tune of 83 points, a mark last year’s team only reached twice in non-OT games.

Eric Cobb

Cobb was a monster in the middle of the offense, scoring 13 points and hauling in 13 boards in the win. The slimmed-down Cobb did a little bit of everything, blowing by defenders for easy buckets at the rim, scoring on some put-backs and even stepping out and hitting some 3-pointers. While Cobb isn't the second coming of Niels Giffey, his size and versatility will likely be a huge asset for this team going forward, especially against opponents with bigger frontcourts.

Tyler Polley

Against UMKC, Polley flashed his scoring ability with 12 points. But against Syracuse, it all came together for the sophomore, who played the second-most minutes behind Jalen Adams. He hit 2-of-4 shots from beyond the arc en route to 9 points and proved himself as a big enough 3-point threat that the announcers continued to mention how he couldn’t be forgotten on the wing.

He also used his length to disrupt defensively, totaling a team-high 3 blocks. His size makes it difficult for guards to shoot over him, but he also has the athleticism to defend smaller, quicker players. Even if/when Sid Wilson returns, Polley will make it difficult for Hurley to take him out of the starting lineup.

3-Pointers

The Huskies did what they needed to do to beat a vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone that ranked second in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency heading into game by shooting lights out from behind arc. UConn was 12-21 (59 percent) from the 3-point line, led by Alterique Gilbert (4-5 from deep) and Christian Vital (3-3).

Vital’s shooting performance was particularly exciting, as the junior guard struggled in the first two games of the year before once again coming up big at the Garden. If the Huskies can continue to shoot the ball well, they should be able to compete with any team in the country.

Syracuse’s Equipment Staff is Incompetent

Against UConn, Buddy Boeheim — yes, the son of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim — had his name spelled wrong on his jersey.

Of course, it was probably just an honest mistake from an equipment manager and definitely won’t happen again, right? Wrong.

This actually happens all the time at Syracuse. During a jersey retirement ceremony for former men’s basketball player Roosevelt Bouie, they gave him a commemorative jersey that said “Bowie”. In the 2015 spring football game, wide receiver Steve Ishmael was actually Steve Ishmeal for the day. The list goes on and on. Seriously.