This week, Daily Campus Sports remembers the nostalgic highs of the old BIG EAST Conference, while also asking ‘where did it all go wrong?’ This is Big East Week.
Date: Mar. 12, 2009 – Mar. 13, 2009; Big East Tournament Quarterfinals
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
Participants: The UConn Huskies, coached by Jim Calhoun, and the Syracuse Orange, coached by Jim Boeheim
The Outcome: Syracuse 127, UConn 117 (6OT)
Perhaps the most famous game in the history of the Big East started on one day, and ended on another. In front of an announced crowd of 19,375 at the World’s Most Famous Arena, Syracuse outlasted hated rival UConn in six overtimes, after 70 minutes of basketball.
Syracuse never led once in the game’s first five overtimes, but overran the Huskies in the final bonus period to advance to the semifinals later that day, which they somehow won.
211 field goals were attempted and eight players fouled out in the second-longest game in college basketball history, behind only a showdown between Cincinnati and Bradley in 1981, before the shot clock was implemented.
Taking three hours and 46 minutes, the clash at the Garden was the longest game in Big East History, and ended at 1:22 a.m.
“We lost the game because we turned the ball over 27 times and couldn’t make a foul shot,” Calhoun said afterwards.
Syracuse almost won in regulation after Eric Devendorf drained a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer with the score tied at 71 apiece, but a lengthy replay review overturned the shot and instead began the first overtime.
Kemba Walker missed game-winning shots in each of the first two overtimes and A.J. Price missed a three to walk off in the third overtime after UConn blew a six-point lead with 2:08 left.
In the fourth overtime, Price missed on a go-ahead basket after driving to the hoop, and in the fifth overtime, he missed again, this time on a 3-pointer with six seconds left. Jeff Adrien had a chance at the buzzer after that miss, but bricked a jumper to force a sixth overtime with the score knotted at 110-110.
Syracuse seized control quickly in the sixth overtime with a 3-pointer with Andy Rautins, who finished with 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting from deep. Jonny Flynn paced the Orange with 34 points and 11 assists in a game-high 67 minutes, while Paul Harris controlled the paint with 29 rebounds and 22 rebounds.
Price led UConn with 33 points on 10-for-29 shooting, while Stanley Robinson chipped in 28 and Hasheem Thabeet added 19. Walker, a freshman at the time, delivered a 4-for-18 clunker.
Syracuse went on to lose in the Big East Tournament finals to Louisville, earning a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, where they would bow out in the Sweet 16. Despite the loss, UConn earned a No. 1 seed due to a 15-3 mark in conference play and rolled all the way to the Final Four, where they lost to Michigan State.