The Big East tournament has provided plenty of entertaining
games in recent years, and both Syracuse and Cincinnati proved the
2012 version can do the same after emerging victorious in their
first postseason action.
If their last meeting at Madison Square Garden is any
indication, they may be in for another exciting matchup Friday
night when the top-seeded Orange face the fourth-seeded Bearcats in
The second-ranked Orange (31-1) escaped with a 58-55 win over
ninth-seeded Connecticut on Thursday after trailing by eight in the
second half, continuing their run toward a likely No. 1 seed in the
Dion Waiters scored a game-high 18 points off the bench for
Syracuse, which has won 11 straight – a streak that began with a
60-53 victory at Cincinnati on Jan. 23.
Coach Jim Boeheim lauded his team’s performance Thursday after
it had four days between games.
“I hate sitting around all week, and it’s very difficult,”
Boeheim said. “I’m glad that we were able to get a win. We haven’t
played that many games and we need to play again. Tomorrow’s game
will help us, but this was a tremendous comeback.”
Cincinnati completed a rally of its own Thursday, beating No. 13
Georgetown 72-70 after Cashmere Wright hit a runner with 7.6
seconds remaining in the second overtime.
The Bearcats (23-9) trailed by 11 points with 8:30 left in
regulation, but Yancy Gates powered the comeback and finished with
a game-high 23 points. Coach Mick Cronin said he was thrilled with
the win, which came despite Cincinnati missing 19 of its 21
attempts from 3-point range.
“Today was a great example of the character of our team,” Cronin
said. “So I couldn’t be more proud of these guys right now, to go 2
for 21 from 3 against Georgetown and win the game is unthinkable,
to be honest with you.”
Gates, a senior, said he’ll be up for the next challenge as
“This is my last shot at (a tournament championship), so you
don’t want to just play one game and go home right away,” he said.
“I’ll never play in the Garden in the Big East tournament again, so
(I’m) just trying to push and fight and stay here as long as
The Bearcats will have to avenge their fourth straight loss to
Syracuse in order to advance to Saturday’s championship game.
Cincinnati shot 34.4 percent in that contest even though the Orange
were without Big East defensive player of the year Fab Melo.
Syracuse also has won six of the last seven meetings in a
stretch that began with a thrilling victory in the first round of
the 2006 Big East tournament.
Gerry McNamara hit a 3-pointer with less than a second remaining
to give the Orange a 74-73 win on their way to the championship in
the teams’ only meeting in conference tournament play.
Syracuse will look to continue toward its first tournament title
since that year while preventing Cincinnati from advancing to its
first Big East championship game.
The Bearcats, playing in their first semifinal since joining the
conference prior to the 2005-06 season, haven’t won a league
tournament since winning the Conference USA championship in