The No. 18 Syracuse Orange (25-8) got another shot against the big, bad Huskies of, the now, No. 4 UConn team (27-4) at 9 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big East Men’s Basketball Championship on Thursday, March 12 at Madison Square Garden.
The 127-117, 6-OT win against Connecticut gives Syracuse a shot of confidence for the NCAA Tournament next week.
Syracuse leads the all-time series against Connecticut, 49-35 and the Orange are 7-5 against the Huskies in Big East Tournament play.
The Orange advanced to the quarterfinal round with an 89-74 victory against Seton Hall on Wednesday.
The Huskies played in their first game of the tournament. As one of the top four seeds, Connecticut earned byes in the first two rounds.
The game was the latest clash between two of college basketball’s most successful coaches—Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun.
Boeheim is third on the Division I active coaching wins list with 795 career victories in his 32-years as head coach for the Orange. Calhoun is second. Both men were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Boeheim won his conference-record 44th Big East Tournament game on Thursday. Syracuse tied the Big East Tournament record with 30 assists on its way to a 15-point victory against 11th-seeded Seton Hall, Wednesday.
According to suathletics.com, the performance was eight shy of the school record (38) set against Rutgers on Feb. 28, 1973. The last time the Orange recorded at least 30 assists was on Dec. 15, 2007 in a 125-75 win versus E. Tennessee State.
Against Seton Hall, sophomore, Jonny Flynn, dished out 11 shots and scored 19-points to notch his third double-double of the year.
Going into the Uconn game, the dynamic point guard had 208 assists on the season.
It’s the ninth time in school history an Orange player has passed out at least 200 assists and Flynn is the seventh different player to achieve the feat joining Sherman Douglas (3), Lazarus Sims (1), Dwayne Washington (1), Allen Griffin (1), Jason Hart (1) and Gerry McNamara (1).
Flynn is currently tied with Hart for seventh on the Orange’s single-season assists’ chart.
Junior, Eric Devendorf, sparked the Orange in the second half Wednesday.
He scored 19-points, all of which came after the intermission, to tie Flynn for team-high scoring honors. He connected on five three-pointers in the contest. Senior forward, Kristof Ongenaet, netted 12-points off the bench and contributed a career-best seven assists in the win.
Five Orange players scored in double figures.
Syracuse generated a good portion of its offense in transition as it outscored the Pirates, 28-6, in fast break points.
Before Thursday, Syracuse went 43-24 all-time in the Big East Tournament.
Its 43 tournament wins ranks second in the league behind Georgetown’s 45.
The only other time, before this year, Syracuse was the tournament’s sixth seed was in 1981 and the Orange fared well, winning its first tournament championship with an 83-80 triple-overtime victory against Villanova in the Carrier Dome.
Overall, the Orange has won the tournament crown five times, including back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006.
The Huskies are ranked third in this week’s Associated Press Poll and fourth in the ESPN/USA Today Poll after ascending to the top of the national rankings earlier this season. Connecticut is a six-time Big East Tournament Champion, winning the title in 1990, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2004.
The Huskies are 28-23 overall in 50 Big East Tournament contests.
The Huskies feature Big East co-Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Hasheem Thabeet.
At 7’3”, the junior center enters postseason play averaging a double-double with 13.6-points per game and 10.8 rebounds per game while adding a league-leading 4.5 blocked shots per contest and 4.2 blocks against Syracuse.
Senior forward and All-Big East Third Team honoree, Jeff Adrien, accents Thabeet.
Prior to Thursday’s game against Syracuse, Adrien averaged a team-best 13.7-points per game in the regular season and was second on the team in rebounding. He recorded 11 double-doubles.
The Connecticut backcourt is led by senior All-League Second-Team selection, A.J. Price.
Price contributed an average of 13.3-points per game in the regular season and led the team in three-point shooting percentage, making 42.4 percent of his shots from long range.
Price was particularly effective against the Orange when the two teams met earlier this season.
He scored a game-high 17-points to lead the Huskies to a 63-49 win at Gampel Pavilion on Feb.11.
The Huskies have won the last two series meetings, including the already mentioned win back in February; however, the Orange has gotten the better of Connecticut recently in the conference championship.
Syracuse defeated the Huskies, 78-65, in the opening round of the 2007 tournament and 86-84 in overtime in the 2006 Big East Championship quarterfinals on its way to the title, and the highest scoring against them in Tournament play winning 127-117.
While Syracuse leads the Big East in scoring at 82.1-points per game, the Orange was held to a season-low, 49-points in its loss to Connecticut on Feb. 11 and Connecticut, however, led the Big East in scoring defense, allowing just 62.1-points per game.
In SU's last two games, the Niagara Falls, N.Y. duo, Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris, has run the court.
Flynn averaged 21.5-points and 8.5 assists and after his 19-point, 11 assist performance on Wednesday against Seton Hall, coach Bobby Gonzalez called Flynn, "almost unguardable.''
He went 16 for 16 at the free throw line helping the Orange to their 6-OT victory on Thursday.
Eric Devendorf's buzzer-beater in regulation left his hands too late to count, but after five overtimes of hanging on, the then ranked, No. 20 Syracuse team dominated the sixth extra session to beat No.3 Connecticut, 127-117, in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.
Syracuse (25-8) never led in the extra frames until the sixth overtime, which the Orange began with eight consecutive points.
Andy Rautins, who had a three near end of the third overtime to send the game to a fourth, began the run with a three. Paul Harris followed with five consecutive points, including a three-point play with just more than two minutes to go for a 118-110 lead and Syracuse held on from there.
It was the longest game in Big East Tournament history, but did not match the longest college basketball game in NCAA history. Bradley and Cincinnati engaged in a seven-overtime affair in December 1981.
Jonny Flynn had a team-high 34-points, Harris ended with 29-points and 22 rebounds, while Rautins had 20-points for the Orange.
Devendorf had 22-points, but was one of four Syracuse players to foul out, exiting in the fifth overtime.
A.J. Price had 33-points for UConn (27-4) before fouling out in the sixth overtime, while Stanley Robinson scored 28-points. Hasheem Thabeet ended with 19-points for the Huskies, but fouled out in the fourth overtime.
The Orange will face a West Virginia team who knocked off No. 2 Pitt, 74-60 on Thursday, in Friday’s semifinals at 9 p.m. EST.
Sources: suathletics.com statistics
Britney Milazzo is a Contributor for Bleacher Report.