The UConn men’s basketball team heads to Madison Square Garden to take on old Big East foe Syracuse in the Big Apple. Despite their new homes in separate conferences, the two longtime rivals have continued to link up in recent years, with Syracuse beating UConn in the Bahamas in 2015 and the Huskies getting the win last season at the Garden.
Let’s look at some of the best moments from the recent history of this contentious rivalry.
McNamara backs Boeheim’s rant with game-tying buzzer beater in 2006 Big East Tourney
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim delivered one of the greatest press conference performances in history with a spirited, student paper-inspired rant defending Gerry McNamara after the senior guard beat Cincinnati with a last-second floater in the 2006 Big East Tournament opener.
The next day, McNamara delivered magic again at the Garden by sending a quarterfinal matchup with UConn to overtime with another last-second shot. The Orange went on to win the tournament behind McNamara’s heroics.
On March 12, 2009 at Madison Square Garden, UConn and Syracuse played a college basketball game for the ages, going six overtimes to decide a victor in a Big East Tournament slugfest.
Eric Devendorf appeared to win the game for Boeheim’s squad with a miraculous 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation, but the shot was waved off after review to set the stage for a lengthy night of bonus basketball.
Syracuse won 127-117 in the second-longest game in history, and the first six-overtime game since 1955. There hasn’t been another one since. The game tipped off at 9:36 p.m. and ended the next morning at 1:22 a.m., for a grand total of 3 hours and 46 minutes.
Somehow, the Orange went on to beat West Virginia in overtime the next night, while both teams went on to successful NCAA tournament runs. Syracuse went to the Sweet 16, while UConn went all the way to the Final Four.
Walker’s 2011 heroics cut down Cuse in Big East semifinals
Everyone remembers Kemba Walker’s stepback game-winner to beat Pitt in the 2011 Big East Tournament, but what about the next night?
In yet another moment at the Garden, the Huskies survived after blowing a late eight-point lead to Syracuse for the fourth of five wins in five days to claim the Big East title. Walker led UConn to a 76-71 overtime win, with 33 points and 12 rebounds, and brought Jim Calhoun’s program to a third national title a few weeks later.
Huskies steal one in final Big East meeting
With the Orange set to depart for the ACC in 2013, UConn and Syracuse met in February that year for the last regular season meeting between the two programs as conference foes. The Huskies were on NCAA probation, making them ineligible for postseason play, while the Orange came to the XL Center ranked No. 6 in the country.
The game didn’t go as expected. UConn won 66-58 in front of a raucous home crowd in Hartford, giving first-year head coach Kevin Ollie a big win in his first season after replacing Calhoun at the helm.
Ryan Boatright, who led the game with 17 points, won the postgame media session as Boeheim did in 2006.
“They are leaving the Big East with a bad taste of UConn in their mouth,” Boatright said.