Syracuse-UConn: The Greatest College Basketball Game Ever Played

Matt ReaganCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2009

The Syracuse Orange outlasted the UConn Huskies Thursday night in Madison Square Garden, 127-117, in six overtimes.

The game lasted an incredible three hours and 46 minutes.

The two teams would go back and forth all night with neither managing a lead larger than five points in regulation.

UConn's PG Kemba Walker was in the right place at the right time and put back a last-second shot with 1.1 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 71.

Orange SF Paul Harris then threw the inbound pass, which was tipped by a UConn defender and landed in the hands of Orange SG Eric Devendorf.

Devendorf shot from about 28 feet out and swished the three as the buzzer sounded, seemingly giving Syracuse a 74-71 victory.

The referee who was closest and making the call threw his hands in the air signaling the shot was good. Devendorf proceeded to jump atop the scorers bench and bang his chest in celebration of the last-second victory.

But not so fast.

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The refs decided to look at the shot on replay and see if he got it off in time. Seeing the replay, it looked inclusive because the ball might have been still on the very tip of his finger.

With there being a lack of conclusive evidence, the original call should have stood and the game should have been over.

But it was not and the game would be sent into overtime.

Six overtimes, to be precise.

At the end of the first OT, Syracuse found themselves down by two points with seconds remaining. Flynn juked and weaved his way through three Huskies defenders and made a circus pass to find PF Rick Jackson all alone under the hoop.

With all the defenders stuck to Flynn, Jackson had an easy, uncontested dunk to tie the score at 81 and send the game into the second OT.

In the second OT, UConn found themselves with the ball and the score tied at 87, with less than 30 seconds remaining.

They decided to run the clock down and then go for the win. Huskies' PG Kemba Walker tried to sink the game-winner but missed, and SF Stanley Robinson corralled the rebound but blew the put-back. The Huskies grabbed the miss and threw it back outside to Walker for another shot but it was blocked by the Orange.

Walker then gathered in his own miss and launched an off-balance three that missed, sending the game into the third OT.

In the third OT, Syracuse found themselves down by three with under 20 seconds remaining. Orange SG Andy Rautins calmly drained a three from the top of the key, tying the score at 98.

UConn's PG A.J. Price then attempted a three with 11 seconds left and missed. Huskie PF Jeff Adrian grabbed the rebound and proceed to shoot a little eight-foot turn-around as the buzzer sounded for the win, but the ball rolled of the rim sending the game into the fourth OT.

It would be Paul Harris who would get the chance to play the role of hero.

Once again with the defense draped all over him, Flynn found the open Harris alone under the hoop with the game tied at 104. Harris then missed the layup but got his own rebound to attempt the game-winning, last-second shot once more, but he was blocked at the buzzer by UConn's PF Gavin Edwards, sending the game into the fifth OT.

In the fifth overtime, Flynn calmly swished two free throws to tie the game at 110 with 20 seconds remaining. UConn then, in succession, missed three last-second attempts, sending the game into the sixth and final OT.

Rautins decided the Orange had played enough and drained a three to start the period, giving Syracuse their first lead in OT.

That would prove to be the straw that broke the Huskies back, as the Orange would go on to outscore them 17-7, thus ending the second longest game in the history of college basketball, 127-117.

"I've got no words," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said after the three hour, 46-minute game. "I have never been prouder of any team I've coached."

The Orange were led by Flynn, who scored 34 points, dished out 11 assists, and had six steals.

Paul Harris had a monster game, scoring 29 points and hauling down a season-high 22 rebounds.

Devendorf and backup Rautins also gave big contributions. Devendorf finished with 22 points and Rautins scored 20 off the bench.

The Huskies were led by A.J. Price, who scored 33 points and dished out 11 assists.

Stanley Robinson played big, scoring 28 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.

Hasheem Thabeet had a monster game down low, scoring 19 points, blocking seven shots, and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Syracuse never had a lead in OT until Rautins' momentum-changing three.

The two teams combined to score 222 points, a Big East record.

The six OTs were the second most in NCAA history.

The three hour and 46-minute game was the longest game in Big East history.

Eight players would foul out and Syracuse had to play the sixth OT with a walk-on in the lineup who had scored a total of four points the whole year.

With the win, Syracuse improves to 25-8 and will face the Mountaineers of West Virginia Friday at 9 p.m.

Syracuse has now beaten UConn three straight times in the Big East Championship and has won four out of the last five meetings between the two teams in tournament play.

Andy Rautins' father, Leo Rautins, tipped in the game winner for Syracuse in the 1981 triple-overtime game that was the previous record for the longest game in the league's history.

"The triple-overtime game was an unbelievable game," Boeheim said after the game which began at 9:30 Thursday night and ended in the wee hours of Friday morning. "I think it'd be hard to top this game."

Well, Jim, I guess you just did!


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