EditorsNote: update 2: adds Friday matchups in second graf
Connecticut defeated a Top 25 opponent for the first time since Feb. 18, 2016, beating the 15th-ranked Syracuse Orange 83-76 Thursday in the opening game of the 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The showdown of former Big East rivals resulted in a signature win for Connecticut coach Danny Hurley in just his third game on the job. UConn will play Iowa, a 77-69 winner over Oregon on Thursday, in the final Friday night at Madison Square Garden. Syracuse will meet the Ducks on Friday afternoon.
The Huskies won the game with their 3-point shooting, making 12 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc. The Orange sank just 6 of 22 from long distance.
UConn (3-0) had five players score in double figures, led by Alterique Gilbert and Jalen Adams who scored 16 points each. Gilbert also handed out eight assists.
Tarin Smith added 14 points off the Connecticut bench. Senior Eric Cobb scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds after entering the game averaging just four points and one rebound this season.
For Syracuse (2-1), the offensive output was similar to the first two games of the season. The Orange hit just 39.4 percent of their shots from the floor.
Freshman guard Jalen Carey overcame a few early turnovers to lead the Orange with 26 points. Tyus Battle scored 16 points, and Elijah Hughes had 15.
UConn jumped in front 13-4 after 4 1/2 minutes, but Syracuse scored the next 11 points, taking the lead at 15-13 on a Battle layup near the midpoint of the first half. The Huskies were on top 38-32 at halftime.
The Orange cut the deficit to two early in the second half before the Huskies went on another surge, opening a 54-41 edge on Tyler Polley’s 3-pointer with 13:22 to play. Syracuse never got closer than five points in the closing minutes.
—Field Level Media