No. 18 Syracuse shoots down No. 3 UConn in six overtimes

NEW YORK — Jonny Flynn's legs were spent. A.J. Price couldn't remember the second overtime from the fourth. Jim Boeheim was rendered speechless.

Jim Calhoun was ready for more.

Syracuse outlasted Connecticut in the second-longest Division I game ever, a six-overtime marathon that began at 9:36 p.m. Thursday and didn't end until 3 hours, 46 minutes later, when the Huskies simply couldn't keep up in a battle of attrition.

"The players are probably exhausted," Calhoun said, after No. 18 Syracuse finally defeated his third-ranked Huskies 127-117 in the Big East tournament quarterfinals. "I'm not exhausted at all. I could run a practice right now — foul shooting maybe."

Good luck with that. Chances are the Huskies would be sleepwalking through it.

The game finished one overtime short of the record set in Cincinnati's 75-73 victory over Bradley on Dec. 21, 1981, and the two teams put together a dizzying stat sheet: a combined 43 turnovers, 82 field goals, 143 rebounds and 244 points.

Flynn, who finished with 34 points and 11 assists, played a game-high 67 minutes for Syracuse (25-8). Paul Harris had 29 points and 22 rebounds, and made several key baskets in the final overtime — after he'd missed just as many lay-ups in earlier extra sessions.

"I kept blowing up lay-ups at the end of the game," Harris said, trying to suppress a laugh in a jubilant post-game news conference. "And I kept asking God, 'Please, let me make a shot at the end of this game.'"

Heck, Flynn just wanted it to end. Period.

"I was thinking, 'Lord, just get this game over with,'" Flynn recounted. "'Whoever wins the game, let's just get it over with.'"

Much earlier in the evening, West Virginia beat No. 2 Pittsburgh 74-60, meaning that instead of a much-anticipated third meeting between two teams that held the No. 1 ranking this season, it will be Syracuse and West Virginia.

No. 5 Louisville will meet 10th-ranked Villanova in the other semifinal.

"You can't even talk about the plays in this game," Boeheim said. "When we were down six in that one overtime, whichever one that was, I don't even know how we got out of that one.

"It would have been a lot better if they just counted Eric's shot and we could have gone home 2 hours ago."

Yes, this game was nearly over much, much earlier.

UConn's Kemba Walker, one of the smallest players on the court, grabbed a loose rebound and laid it in with 1.1 seconds left in regulation to knot it at 71. After a Syracuse timeout, Harris ran the baseline and threw an inbound pass that was deflected by Gavin Edwards to Eric Devendorf, who let a shot go from about 28 feet just as the red lights around the backboard went off.

It went in, and Devendorf jumped up on the courtside press table, pounding his chest and screaming as his teammates reached up and pulled him down.

The play was reviewed, as are all shots near the end of halves, and veteran officials John Cahill and Bob Donato watched replay after replay before finally ruling the shot was late, sending the game into the first of the six 5-minute overtimes.

Price had 33 points and 10 assists for the Huskies (27-4), while Stanley Robinson had 28 points and was one of three Connecticut players with 14 rebounds. Hasheem Thabeet had 19 points, 14 rebounds and six of the Huskies' 16 blocked shots before fouling out in the fourth overtime.

All told, four players from each team fouled out.

"Certainly when (Thabeet) went out it helps us, it gives us a chance," Boeheim said. "We were attacking him better tonight than we have ever."

Connecticut took the lead in each of the first five overtimes but Syracuse found a way to come back each time. Andy Rautins' 3 to start the sixth overtime gave the Orange their first lead since 71-69 with 27 seconds to go in regulation.

The first overtime ended tied at 81 when Walker ducked between two Syracuse players for a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that fell short.

The second overtime almost had an ending for the ages when Walker let go a shot from just inside midcourt that bounced off the back of the rim, leaving it tied at 87.

Harris scored consecutive field goals for Syracuse in the third overtime, and after Price made one free throw with 21 seconds left for a 98-95 lead, Rautins hit a 3 with 11 seconds left to tie it. Price missed a 3 and Adrien was off with the rebound and it was time for the fourth overtime — making it the longest Big East tournament game ever played.

Price missed a drive with 10 seconds left in the fourth overtime and Harris had two shots blocked in the final seconds to send it to No. 5 tied at 104.

Price's NBA-distance 3-pointer with 6 seconds left in the fifth overtime bounced off the rim to Adrien, who was short with a jumper at the buzzer and the game tied at 110.

The players seemed exhausted and most of the sellout crowd of 19,375 were still in their seats, or at least standing in front of them, for the sixth overtime.

The only previous triple-overtime game in Big East tournament history was Syracuse's 83-80 victory over Villanova in the 1981 championship game, just the second one ever played, and a game that featured Leo Rautins of the Orange, Andy's father.

The previous highest scoring game in Big East tournament history was Villanova's 96-93 first-round win over Pittsburgh in double overtime in 1998.

One for the ages? Most certainly.

Unless you're Calhoun, who would have given anything for 5 more minutes.

"There was something historic about the game, certainly. Both teams competed," the Hall of Fame UConn coach said. "I'm sure in the summertime I'll look back at what a historic battle it was. Right now it's a loss. Right now, no way."

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