The last time Syracuse and Connecticut faced each other in the
Big East tournament, the game lasted early into the next morning in
an epic six-overtime battle.
The 11th-ranked Orange will look to continue their tournament
success against the No. 21 Huskies as the two face off Friday night
for a spot in the championship game.
Syracuse (26-6) and Connecticut (24-9) are meeting for the fifth
time in seven years in the Big East tournament, and the first time
since the Orange’s 127-117 six-overtime victory in the 2009
tournament quarterfinals, a game that lasted nearly four hours.
Of the 12 Big East tournament meetings between Jim Boeheim’s
Syracuse and Jim Calhoun’s Connecticut teams, it was by far the
most memorable and extended Boeheim’s streak over Calhoun at
Madison Square Garden to four games.
Kemba Walker will look to snap Connecticut’s postseason losing
streak to Syracuse after hitting a game-winning shot at the buzzer
in the Huskies’ 76-74 win over top seed and No. 3 Pittsburgh on
“The best player in my opinion for his team made another winning
shot, a big-time shot,” Calhoun said. “There wasn’t any doubt in my
mind what option it would be when he put the hard dribble down.
Kemba has made a ton of big shots.”
Walker finished with 24 points. He’s averaging 26.0 points in
the tournament and has helped ninth-seeded Connecticut pull within
one win of the tournament title game after the Huskies ended the
regular season losing four of five.
Walker seems to be thriving under pressure, even though, as he
puts it, everybody knows the ball is going to end up in his hands
“I’m one of the more experienced guys on my team and I’ve been
through a lot you know,” he said. “So everybody knows that and I’m
going to be the one to take that last shot or make the last
Connecticut could be without starter Roscoe Smith, who received
eight stitches and was tested for a concussion after taking an
elbow to the face in the first half of the win. He spent the rest
of the game on the bench.
Walker had a forgettable performance in Connecticut’s 66-58 home
loss to Syracuse on Feb. 2, scoring a season-low eight points on
3-of-14 shooting. The Huskies were ranked sixth in the AP Poll at
the time of the defeat.
For the Orange, that win snapped a four-game losing streak and
turned their season around. They advanced to the semifinals after a
79-73 win over fifth-seeded and No. 17 St. John’s on Thursday.
Brandon Triche scored a season-high 22 points and freshman center
Fab Melo added a season-high 12, including two layups in the final
The Orange shot 37 percent in the first half, trailing by five
at the break, but they went 16 of 32 from the field in the second
half and closed the game by going 5 of 6 from the free-throw line
over the final 26 seconds.
After losing six of eight, Syracuse has won six straight.
“We learned our identity as a team,” Scoop Jardine said of the
losing streak. “We were in a hole and had to dig ourselves out. …
We knew what we had to do and the things we had to do to overcome
that and I think that was the best thing that could have happened
to our season because we found our identity and stayed together
through the whole thing.”