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: March 9, 1996; Big East Tournament Championship
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
Participants: The UConn Huskies, coached by Jim Calhoun, and the Georgetown Hoyas, coached by John Thompson
The Outcome: UConn 75, Georgetown 74
With Georgetown up one and 15 seconds remaining, Ray Allen’s awkward double-pump runner from the right elbow quickly became one of the most famous shots in Big East history. Allen’s game-winning shot brought UConn its second Big East Championship and completed an impressive comeback by the Huskies.
“Oh, oh! Off-balance! Unbelievable,” color commentator Dick Vitale said after Allen’s shot.
It was the second matchup of the season between UConn and Georgetown, dubbed “Allen vs. Allen” as Hall of Famers Ray Allen and Allen Iverson battled for Big East glory. In the first matchup a few weeks earlier, Georgetown dominated the Huskies as Iverson led the way with 26 points and eight steals to hand UConn its only conference loss of the season.
UConn’s chances for redemption were looking slim with just under four minutes to play as the Huskies found themselves down 74-65 in the championship game. The Huskies responded with a 10-0 run to end the game, led by six points from junior forward Kirk King.
King and freshman guard Ricky Moore were the unlikely heroes in the first 39 minutes of the game, making up for Allen’s 4-19 shooting night before hitting the game-winner. Moore set a career high with 14 points while playing stellar defense on Iverson. King tied his career high of 20 points and matched the physicality of the Hoyas frontcourt.
While Moore defended Iverson, Georgetown freshman Victor Page put the finishing touches on an impressive tournament. Page scored 20 points, one night after dropping 34 against Villanova in the semifinals and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. It marked the third time a player on the losing team was given the honor.
The title was the second of UConn’s seven Big East Championships, tied with Georgetown for the most in the conference’s history.
UConn finished the year with a 30-2 record and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas finished 26-7 and were rewarded with a No. 2 seed. Georgetown would bow out in the Elite Eight with a loss to John Calipari-led UMass, while UConn was knocked out of the tournament in the Sweet 16 after losing to Mississippi State.
Josh Buser is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.