The Syracuse Orange almost fell victim to the UConn Huskies for the second straight year but came away with a 58-55 win. In a game that at times felt like a repeat of 2009's classic 6OT finish, the Huskies could not hold on to their second-half momentum and pull the upset.
The Syracuse Orange thrived off the spark provided by Big East Sixth Man of the Year Dion Waiters and his 18 points, but none could have been more important than his huge steal and layup when Syracuse was down seven. This sparked the comeback.
Waiters stepped up to be a leader for the Orange in this game both on and off the court. After Fab Melo's ill-advised 20-foot jumper late in the second, Waiters and head coach Jim Boeheim attempted to calm down the Brazilian giant after a comment from freshman Michael Carter-Williams upset Melo.
James Southerland caught fire in the second half, scoring 10 points and icing the game with two late free throws. But his three set up by Kris Joseph finished the late run to win the game for the Orange.
Scoop Jardine continued his roller-coaster ride and was benched for most of the second half by Coach Boeheim, which allowed both Southerland and Waiters to have extended minutes.
Andre Drummond and Shabazz Napier led the low-high attack that, at times, frustrated the Orange. UConn laid down the blueprint for other teams to follow as it slowed the game with its half-court strategy and continually swung the ball around the arc and took open threes.
Once the Orange's zone was extended, the Huskies threw it to Drummond, who would prove to be a worthy adversary to Melo, who has been largely unchallenged all season by anyone besides himself with foul trouble.
The wonderful and dangerous thing about this game for the Orange was that Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, C.J. Fair and Kris Joseph were all awful in their own ways, yet Syracuse still won.
This depth is unprecedented, but these players cannot all of a sudden get cold for the rest of the tournament season or Syracuse will not win the championship. However, it can still win games with the "B" team...something that has never really been seen before this late in the year.
Andrew Pregler is a Syracuse Featured Columnist and loves new Twitter Followers @ACPregler.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!