Syracuse saw its undefeated season come to an end at the hands of No. 2 Kansas on Saturday. The Orange look to get back to their winning ways Tuesday when they renew their former Big East rivalry against Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, a site of their epic battles over the years.
Syracuse got 22 points from Tyus Battle, but never threatened the Jayhawks in the 76-60 setback in Miami last time out. The Huskies enter the contest winners of two in a row, but both times they were forced to rally from behind in the second half before pulling out overtime decisions against mid-major foes at home. Jalen Adams had 31 points in the Huskies’ latest Houdini-like escape act, an 84-81 victory over Monmouth. The Orange lead the all-time series 55-38, but UConn pulled off a stunning 52-50 upset last season in a game also played at MSG.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT UCONN (6-2): The Huskies followed a sloppy victory over Columbia with another lackluster performance against Monmouth at Hartford on Saturday. “Second overtime game, back to back games, but our guys once again found a way to win,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie told reporters. “I’ll take the win, but I’m still not satisfied with how we’re getting there.” Freshman guard Alterique Gilbert (nine points, four rebounds per game) missed his second contest a row last time out with a shoulder injury and remains questionable for Tuesday.
ABOUT SYRACUSE (6-1): Syracuse’s hot start was not unexpected as the Orange breezed through a soft early schedule with their only real test, a 72-70 victory over Maryland. The Orange were sixth in the nation in rebounding entering Monday pulling down 44.1 rebounds per game paced by freshman Oshae Brissett (9.9), who has four double-doubles in his brief collegiate career. Battle, a 6-6 sophomore guard, leads the team in scoring at 20 points per game and has scored at least 18 points six times this season, while Frank Howard, a 6-5 junior guard, has scored at least a dozen points in his last six outings.
1. UConn is 5-0 at home but 1-2 in neutral site games this season, including losses to Michigan State and Arkansas in the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore.
2. The Orange’s 2-3 zone had no success slowing down Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham, who scored 35 points against them Saturday, but it could affect the Huskies who are shooting 30.4 percent from 3-point range.
3. In 2009, the teams played a memorable six-overtime game at MSG which Syracuse won 127-117.
PREDICTION: UConn 70, Syracuse 68