No. 2 Syracuse beats Eastern Michigan 70-48; Christmas and Grant each score 15 points

By | January 1, 2014

The Republic

PHOTO: CORRECTS SPELLING TO HANSON, NOT HANSEN - Singing group Hanson, from left, brothers Isaac, Zac and Taylor, perform the national anthem before the start of the Syracuse-Eastern Michigan NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

CORRECTS SPELLING TO HANSON, NOT HANSEN – Singing group Hanson, from left, brothers Isaac, Zac and Taylor, perform the national anthem before the start of the Syracuse-Eastern Michigan NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

After Darell Combs hit a 3 to pull Eastern Michigan to 11-6, Cooney started the Syracuse run with a 3 from the left wing and Fair and Grant followed with dunks to give Syracuse an 18-6 lead at 13:28.

Christmas converted a lay-in to complete a pretty passing play under the basket with Ennis and Tyler Roberson and boost the Orange lead to 30-10 at 7:33.

“I knew with Jerami starting it makes them better offensively,” Eastern Michigan coach Rob 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 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 Bryant.

“The first four 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.

After Lee’s 3-pointer closed the gap to 44-37 at 15:53, Syracuse responded with a 14-2 run to clinch it. Christmas’s putback capped it at 7:46 and gave the Orange a 58-39 edge.

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.

“We started to play at a very high level,” Boeheim said. “We played at a very low level the rest of the game. It’s something to think about. I think we felt we had the game under control and offensively settled a little bit. They made a couple of good offensive plays. We had a really bad stretch at the end of the first half, made some turnovers we don’t usually make.”

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.