Brissett lifts Syracuse past UConn, 72-63
By DAN GELSTON
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Syracuse and UConn fans dressed in team colors, exhorted their alma maters with rallying cries and even had a few choice words for the opposition.
The renewed rivalry gave Madison Square Garden a bit of a March atmosphere.
“I don’t think any two schools are going to put more people in the Garden,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.
Hope those fans didn’t mind looking up. The old highlights on the video board might have been the basketball of the night.
Oshae Brissett had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Tyus Battle scored 22 points to lead Syracuse past UConn 72-63 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
The former Big East rivals failed to relive the glory days at the Garden that had defined their series as one of the best in basketball. But fans of both teams enjoyed the give-and-take chants that filled a mostly full MSG on the night.
“We had great games. Great memories,” Boeheim said. “But when you’re in a league, you’re in a league and that’s what’s important.”
The Orange are in the ACC and the Huskies now play in the American Athletic Conference.
But it’s the Big East roots that still run deep for the faithful.
The Orange, coming off a 16-point loss to No. 2 Kansas, controlled from tipoff in a sloppy outing where they made only four 3-pointers and had nine assists.
Matthew Moyer scored 18 points and the Orange scored some easy buckets late in the second half to never let this win get away from them. Moyer had a needed confidence boost in a season where he averaged only 2.4 points.
“He’s been horrible all year. Horrible is being nice,” Boeheim said. “He was terrific tonight and I think he can build on this.”
Jalen Adams led the Huskies (6-3) with 22 points and Christian Vital had 17.
Vital gave UConn a brief sign of life with a pair of 3s in the second half that sliced the deficit to 11. Vital fed Adams on the fastbreak for an easy bucket to make it a nine-point game and MSG was filled with “Let’s Go Huskies!” chants.
But UConn couldn’t do much more offensively — and a big block by Syracuse forward Brissett and a UConn shot-clock violation slowed the Huskies’ run. UConn coach Kevin Ollie stomped his feet so loudly in annoyance over one play it could be heard 85 feet away in a noisy MSG.
“It was like we’d never seen a zone before,” Ollie said.
Brissett, one of the top freshmen in the ACC, capitalized with a dunk that stretched the lead back to double digits.
Brissett and Battle each scored 12 points in the first half to help the Orange lead 40-29.
UConn and Syracuse had regular matchups at Madison Square Garden when they both were in the Big East. The greatest of all their matchups was the 2009 Big East Tournament quarterfinal that Syracuse won 127-117 in six overtimes. MSG played clips from the classic on the big screen. Syracuse leads the all-time series 56-38.