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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET12:00 PM GMT8:00 PM 北京时间5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST, Nov 6, 2018
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York  Attendance: 19,912

No. 16 Syracuse hosts Eastern Washington in season opener

Syracuse took the right step back to respectability last season, barely making March Madness with a First Four appearance after failing to make the postseason the year before.

With coach Jim Boeheim returning his core from last season, including one of the best backcourts in college basketball with junior Tyus Battle (a 6-foot-6 preseason All-American) and Frank Howard, Syracuse figures to not be sweating out a selection into the NCAA tournament come March.

The 16th-ranked Orange, who finished 23-14 after advancing to the Sweet 16, open their season at the Carrier Dome Tuesday against the Big Sky's Eastern Washington in the first game played between the two programs.

It is one of the preliminary games of the 2K Empire Classic Benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project.

"I think we've got about 10 guys if everyone is healthy. We'll see how it all plays out but we're happy to have a lot of guys," said Boeheim, whose team beat Arizona State, TCU and Michigan State before losing to Duke in the Sweet 16 last year'

Three of Boeheim's guards may miss Tuesday's opener.

Howard Washington is recovering from ACL surgery. Howard has been slowed by a lower leg injury that required him to wear a boot. Jalen Carey, a highly touted freshman from New Jersey, sustained a left ankle injury during Syracuse's Orange-White scrimmage on Oct. 12.

Washington and Carey are game-time decisions while Howard is doubtful.

"We'd like to get our point guards back obviously, and we're a different team when we do get those back, but part of this is a good experience for the guys who play more than they'd get to play," said Boeheim, who has a career record of 926-368 since starting at Syracuse in 1976-77. "We'd like to get everybody back healthy soon."

In addition to returning group of perimeter players, sophomore small forward Marek Dolejaz and senior center Paschal Chukwu are also important starters coming back from last year.

Eastern Washington begins its second year with Shantay Legans at the Eagles head coach. A former player at California and Fresno State from 1999 to 2004, Legans coached Eastern Washington to a 20-15 overall record and 13-5 mark in the Big Sky last year.

The program made its fourth straight national postseason appearance when the team competed in the 2018 College Basketball Invitational (CBI).

"It's very exciting to start the season, but it's also exciting to get out there and play some of the best teams and players in the country," Legans said. "It's a great opportunity for our program and show the grit we've been talking about throughout our athletic department. We want to go out and show what we have."

Eastern Washington returns seven letterwinners from the 2017-18 team, including four starters.

Just three of the returning players will be seniors -- guards Ty Gibson and Cody Benzel as well as 6-foot-7 forward Jesse Hunt. Injuries sidelined Hunt and starting point guard Luka Vulikic for most of last season. Hunt returns after missing half of last season. Vulikic played in just eight games.

The Eagles lost Big Sky and Eastern Washington career scoring leader in Bogdan Bliznyuk, a small forward who was the league MVP and an honorable All-America selection last year after finishing with 2,169 points in his career. He is now playing professionally in Israel.

After traveling to Syracuse, Eastern Washington returns to the Pacific Northwest Friday play at No. 14 Oregon.

After the 2K Classic sub-regional games at home against Green Bay or either UMKC or Morehead State, the Eagles will play their next five games on the road, including games against Washington and Stanford.

"It's a challenge, but we'll be ready for tip-off on Nov. 6," Legans said. "We'll be tested on the road again, and our four games at home will be challenging as well. We're looking forward to the non-conference portion of our schedule preparing us for our league schedule and ultimately the Big Sky Tournament in March."

Updated November 5, 2018

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