SU would go on big runs of 7-0, 11-0 and 10-0 on the way to a 84-48 drubbing of the Eagles, who are led by former Orange assistant Rob Murphy.
On a night where basketball seemed to be secondary with everything that has gone on, both teams came out of the gates shooting well. The contest began as a back-and-fourth affair until late in the first half, when the home team opened up an eight-point lead.
"James (Southerland) made a couple of shots in the first half," coach Jim Boeheim said. "(had he not have) We probably would have been behind at halftime."
Before that point, it was the Eagles who held the momentum with 5-foot-10 point guard Darrell Lampley at the helm. He penetrated seemingly at will after connecting on a pair of three-pointers to tighten the Orange's defense on him on the edge. EMU was up 21-18 at the 8:00 mark of the first half thanks to 12 points from Lampley, but SU got a hold of the game from there.
After a 7-0 run fueled by defense and good shot selection, the Orange held a lead it would through the half. It stretched to an eight-point advantage just before the break, as Southerland capped a run with an alley-oop slam from Scoop Jardine with less than one minute to play.
"I just feel like if you play your game," Southerland said. "No one is going to stop me from doing what I need to do."
On Tuesday, that was to provide a spark off of the bench as a scorer. He created the momentum, and his teammates sustained it.
"In the second half we got out energy up…and was able to finish the game," Boeheim added.
The fourth-ranked Orange came out in the second half and held the momentum with an offensive burst. Everybody seemed to contribute on an 11-0 run at the end of the first 20 minutes that stretched into the second half. From that point, it was a 15-point advantage for SU.
Syracuse went on another big run, this time 9-0, soon after as the lead ballooned to 21. It would eventually reach 37 at one point before the final margin of 36 was reached.
Much of the reason why the Orange was able to pull away and halt an Eagle rally attempt was because of ball security. SU turned the ball over just four times in the first half, and just twice in the final 20 minutes.
Murphy, in his first season as EMU's head coach, utilized the patented 2-3 zone he learned from Boeheim well in the first half, but athleticism and talent took over as time progressed.
EMU's Lampley ended up with 19 of the team's 48 points. No other Eagle had more than seven points.