Oshae Brissett tallied 20 points and eight rebounds as No. 16 Syracuse opened its season with a dominating defensive effort to cruise past Eastern Washington 66-34 in an opening-round game of the 2K Empire Classic at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse, which returns all five starters from a team that reached the Sweet 16 last season, used its patented 2-3 zone to smother the Eagles’ offense, holding Eastern Washington to 22.4 percent from the floor.
The Orange didn’t shoot well — just 39.3 percent — and Brissett was the only one of the team’s eight scorers to reach double figures, but they didn’t need to light up the scoreboard considering how impressive their defense was against an Eastern Washington team that was returning four starters from a 20-win team.
Syracuse forced 19 turnovers and did not give the Eagles many good looks from the floor, forcing Eastern Washington to settle for long 3-pointers, of which it only hit 6 of 34 attempts.
Brissett, a sophomore forward, had a solid all-around game, going 8 of 14 from the floor and chipping in three steals and two assists to go along with his rebound totals. Junior guard Elijah Battle racked up seven points and seven rebounds.
Both teams had the typical feeling-out process during the first few minutes of the game, but the Orange took control of the game with a 12-0 run midway through the first half, closing the period on a 23-5 burst to build a 28-10 halftime advantage.
Syracuse continued to squeeze Eastern Washington’s offense in the second half, opening up a 60-24 advantage with 7:53 remaining in the game before the Orange turned to its bench.
Guard Tyler Kidd led the Eagles with nine points. Eastern Washington plays at No. 14 Oregon on Friday. Syracuse continues in the 2K Classic by hosting Morehead State on Saturday.
—Field Level Media