Eastern Michigan loses 70-48 at No. 2 Syracuse
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)
Jerami Grant scored 15 points in his first start of the season, Rakeem Christmas matched his career high with 15, and the No. 2 Orange beat the Eagles 70-48 on Tuesday.
Even a difficult nonconference schedule that also included losses to three other ranked teams - Duke, Kentucky and Massachusetts - wasn't much help against Syracuse. Averaging 71.5 points, the Eagles finished with 48 against the Orange for the third straight time.
''I give them a lot of credit,'' Murphy said. ''They're No. 2 in the country. They play basketball at a high level, and they protect their home floor.''
Making his first start of the season and 10th of his career, Grant scored 11 points in the first 7 minutes as the Orange raced to a 20-point lead. The Orange put together a 19-4 spurt as the Eagles (7-5) sputtered mightily, making just 3 of their first 16 shots and committing eight turnovers in the opening 12 minutes.
After Darell Combs hit a 3 to pull Eastern Michigan to 11-6, Trevor Cooney started the Syracuse run with a 3 from the left wing and C.J. Fair and Grant followed with dunks to give Syracuse an 18-6 lead at 13:28.
Christmas converted a layup to complete a pretty passing play under the basket and boost the Orange lead to 30-10 at 7:33.
''I knew with Jerami starting it makes them better offensively,'' Murphy said. ''He was able to get into the high post and create some havoc. When we figured that out, it was a game.''
The Orange got sloppy after their spurt, committing five turnovers, Christmas was called for two fouls, and Tyler Ennis missed the front end of a 1-and-1 as the Eagles clawed back with a 15-6 surge keyed by two three-point plays from Glenn Bryant.
''The first 4 minutes determined a lot,'' Bryant said. ''We came out kind of sluggish and were down so much. We just talked to each other, said we had to bring more energy, consistency, and we were able to fight and get back into the game.''
In the final 80 seconds of the period, Fair and Christmas missed dunks and Grant was called for goaltending. A pair of free throws by Mike Talley with 1.7 seconds left narrowed the Orange's lead to 36-27 at the break.
EMU moved within 36-30 in the first minute of the second half when Talley drained a 3-pointer from the wing, but Christmas responded with a putback, Fair sank two free throws, and Cooney hit his second 3 of the game to give the Orange a 12-point lead less than 4 minutes in.
''They got an early lead. We continued to fight, cut it to nine, thought we were in great shape,'' Murphy said. ''Once you go down 12 and it's the second half, their defensive intensity picked up, they got a couple of offensive rebounds, and we were unable to score with ease at the other end.''
After Raven Lee's 3-pointer closed the gap to 44-37 at 15:53, Syracuse responded with a 14-2 run to clinch it.
Bryant led Eastern Michigan with 19 points and eight rebounds and Lee had 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Leading scorer Karrington Ward had five points, 10 below his average, on 2-of-10 shooting. Former Syracuse center Da'Shonte Riley, a 7-footer, was a nonfactor, failing to score or snare a rebound in 15 minutes of play.
''For us, moving forward, we just have to keep getting better. We've played a tough nonconference schedule,'' Murphy said. ''We've been in a lot of hostile environments. Going into our conference, no matter where we go, we've seen the toughest of places. We've seen the best players. We've competed in every venue, not for 40 minutes, a lot of times 28, 30, 32 minutes, and that's not going to get it done in those stadiums. But it really prepares you going into the conference. You've seen everything.''
Syracuse (13-0), one of seven unbeaten teams in Division I, has won 51 straight nonconference games in the Carrier Dome and begins its first season of play in the Atlantic Coast Conference at home against Miami on Saturday.
''We really have come through this first 13 games as well as you could ever hope for,'' Boeheim said. ''We played some really good teams. It's ironic the one game we could have lost was St. Francis. We've put ourselves in the best position we could possibly put ourselves in.''
Fair finished with 13 points and eight rebounds and Cooney had 10 points for the Orange. Ennis, second nationally in assist to turnover ratio (4.69), matched his season high with nine assists to go with two turnovers and pulled down five rebounds but did not score.
Syracuse committed 13 turnovers, finished 3 of 14 from long range, Fair missing all five he attempted, and misfired on 10 of 25 free throws.
Grant replaced Dajuan Coleman in the starting lineup. Coleman, who has a contusion in his left leg, watched the game dressed in sweats on the Syracuse bench. He's been receiving treatment for the injury and Boeheim called the injury day-to-day.