Syracuse, N.Y. -- Jerami Grant got his first start of the season against Eastern Michigan and did not disappoint, leading Syracuse to a 70-48 victory over the Eagles Tuesday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.
The sophomore started in place of DaJuan Coleman who was sidelined with what Syracuse spokesman Pete Moore described as a bone contusion on his left leg. Grant made the most of his opportunity, setting the tone early and scoring nine of the first 11 points to start the first half.
"I thought that we really started the game tremendously," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said, "Jerami got into the lane, we had good ball movement, we got the ball in the lane and played good defense."
Grant alongside Rakeem Christmas were the team's top scorers, netting 15 points apiece. Christmas showed a glimmer of versatility early on, hitting a baseline jumper to get things going for the Orange.
In the first half, Syracuse dominated in paint, often overwhelming Eastern Michigan with its length and size. The team outscored the Eagles in that department, 26-10 (40-18 to end the game). At times, it was as if Eastern Michigan didn't have an answer for C.J. Fair (13 points), either. The senior, for the most part, sliced and diced the baseline and had his way when it came to picking and choosing his spots down low.
Fair, Grant, Tyler Ennis and Tyler Roberson accounted for 36 of the 39 total rebounds. Syracuse out-rebounded Eastern Michigan 39-30.
Despite not registering a point, Ennis helped out in other ways, including on the glass (five boards) and dishing out nine assists. Christmas was the main recipient of Ennis' passes this particular game. The forward was seven-for-eight from the field.
Even with the lopsided victory, Boeheim was nervous heading into Tuesday afternoon's contest. Former Orange assistant-turned-Eagles head coach Rob Murphy knew a thing or two about the 2-3 zone defense.
"I was worried coming into this game," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said, "We haven't played against a lot of zone -- extended zone. They've got a very good zone defense."
Boeheim also noted his team's dip in play heading into the locker room.
"They made a couple good offensive plays," Boeheim said, "We just had a really bad stretch at the end of the first half and made some turnovers that we usually don't make.
"I think at this stage," Boeheim said, "what were concerned about is being ready for the league starting Saturday. We have some good practice days ahead of us that will help.
Although critical at times, Boeheim gave his team a vote of confidence, praising his players for battling through the first 13 games of the season.
"I think that we have really have come through this first 13-game non-conference schedule as well as you could ever hope for."
Syracuse will open conference play at home against a young Miami team on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 2 p.m.
Syracuse puts away Eastern Michigan
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