It’s a weird time in which we’re living. We’re all sitting in quarantine wondering how to pass the time. How many times can we clean our kitchens or watch Space Jam. Does thumb-twiddling count as exercise?. In New York, we’ve been saluting those who are fighting this virus on the front lines every night at 7PM. Here at The Turf, we’re immensely thankful for all essential workers and everything they’re doing. Their efforts are keeping us all as safe as possible. In return, the best we can think to do is revisit sports history and find ways to keep you all entertained. We have to fill that void somehow, right?
Today: Syracuse and UConn go to Overtime, and then Double Overtime, and then push the boundaries of time… to Six Overtime periods.
I was 9 years old, dressed head to toe in orange at my childhood home in DeWitt, NY. It was the latest my mom had ever let me stay up on a school night.
If you ask any Syracuse fan, they could probably tell you where they were for the six overtime game.
If you live in Syracuse, attended Syracuse University, or have even just PASSED THROUGH Central New York during the month of March, you can tell that there is magic in the air. The magic is not in the form of a sprouting tulip or a budding tree, but rather a 29.5-ounce leather ball. Although still frozen over, Syracuse begins to thaw, and basketball becomes the craze of the city. And there is no better example of this basketball magic at work than the six overtime game in the 2009 Big East Tournament between Syracuse and Connecticut.
The 2009 Big East Basketball Tournament is still, to this day, one of the greatest conference tournaments of all time. Headlined by six nationally-ranked teams, the stage was set for some dramatic, fast-paced, classic Big East basketball in the Big Apple.
And that is exactly what we got on March 12th, 2009.
A veteran Syracuse team ranked 20th in the country came into the 2009 Big East Tournament on a hot streak. After a somewhat up and down season, they’d won five of their last six games. They faced Seton Hall in the first round and made quick work of the Pirates, moving on to the next round to face #4 UConn, who received a double-bye after stellar regular season play.
The game was a star-studded matchup of legendary coaches, future NBA talent (Kemba Walker, Johnny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet, Andy Rautins), and Big East blue bloods fighting for position in the NCAA Tournament.
‘CUSE. UCONN. MSG. Let’s get it.
The game was simply 40 minutes of gritty college basketball at its finest. Both teams found tooth and nail, and it seemed like every second there was a loose ball or a player on the floor. Big East Defensive Player of the Year Hasheem Thabeet dominated the boards and piled up the blocks, assisted by unsung hero Stanley Robinson who put on a show offensively. But Syracuse somehow stayed in the game throughout regulation, led by the physical, scrappy play of sophomore Johnny Flynn, and precision shooting by junior Andy Rautins. The game was neck and neck going into the final seconds, with Syracuse maintaining a slim lead thanks to solid free-throw shooting.
Then the impossible happened.
With UConn down two, a freshman by the name of Kemba Walker got a loose rebound and laid it in to tie the game at 71 with 1.1 seconds remaining. With the game likely going into overtime, Syracuse threw a Hail Mary bomb to Eric Devendorf at the far end of the court. Devendorf heaved up a miracle shot just as time expired and nailed it, seemingly sending Syracuse to the next round. Until it didn’t count. A fingertip sent the game to overtime.
“If Devendorf had trimmed his finger nails this morning, that shot probably would’ve been good.”–Jay Bilas, ESPN
One overtime and it’s over, right?
Overtime #1: Syracuse trails by 1 with :36 seconds remaining, essentially the entire shot clock in their hands. A missed three by Andy Rautins gives UConn the ball with 14.8 left, sending Stanley Robinson to the line. Robinson makes 1 of 2 and ties the game. Syracuse guard Johnny Flynn rushes down the court, dumping it off to big man Rick Jackson for a slam with 4.4 remaining. TIE GAME. UConn caps the first overtime off with a sloppy possession, sending the game to OT #2.
Overtime #2: Fatigue is starting to show for both teams. After a sloppy UConn possession the Orange have the ball in a tie game with :22 seconds remaining, a chance to get the last shot. Flynn takes an unnecessary three, sending the ball the other way, leading Kemba Walker to miss a near half court shot off the rim. OT #3.
This HAS to be the last one.
Overtime #3: UConn is up two with :25 seconds left, and after a slippery offensive rebound by Kemba Walker, forcing Syracuse to foul with :20 seconds left. UConn makes 1 of 2 from the line. Three point game. 20 seconds left. Screen. Andy Rautins. Three. TIE GAME. UConn misses the buzzer beater at the other end, OT #4. F-O-U-R.
It’s WAY past my 9 year old school night bedtime at this point.
Overtime #4: Syracuse hasn’t lead in a single overtime. 104-104. Paul Harris stuffed at the rim twice as time winds down. Overtime #5.
Overtime #5: Every big man who played substantial minutes for both teams has fouled out. Walk-on Justin Thomas is in the game for SU. Syracuse is down two with :20 seconds left, Johnny Flynn at the line. He nails both free throws, allowing UConn to take the last shot. It doesn’t fall. What else would you expect at this point? OVERTIME #6.
Overtime #6: Andy Rautins nails a three to start the 6th OT. Syracuse takes their first lead since regulation. They don’t give it up.
127-117. SIX OVERTIMES. A GAME FOR THE AGES.
- / 10 months ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.