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Big East men's basketball tournament: Syracuse defeats West Virginia in shorter marathon — just one OT this time

Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku drives against West Virginia’s Kevin Jones.

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Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku drives against West Virginia’s Kevin Jones.

NEW YORK — Syracuse went five more minutes instead of five more overtimes.

The No. 18 Orange, less than 24 hours after winning the second-longest Division I game ever, played just one extra period in a 74-69 victory over West Virginia on Friday in the Big East tournament semifinals.

"Sorry we didn't give you a longer game tonight," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.

The Orange (26-8), which beat Connecticut 127-117 in six overtimes in the quarterfinals, faces top-seeded and fifth-ranked Louisville in tonight's title game.

Eric Devendorf had 23 points for sixth-seeded Syracuse. Jonny Flynn, who had 34 points and 11 assists in 67 minutes in Thursday's win, had 15 points and nine assists Friday.

Look at Syracuse's Big East tournament experience this way: The Orange played what amounted to three games in less than 24 hours.

Its six-overtime victory that ended at 1:22 a.m. Friday lasted 70 minutes, 10 minutes short of two full games.

But defying expectations of exhaustion and languid legs, Syracuse turned in an overall solid game from opening tip to overtime buzzer.

"I think we felt pretty good overall," said guard Andy Rautins, who had 12 points. "Credit our guys for having such heart to compete."

It will be Syracuse's 14th championship game and first since 2006, when it beat Pittsburgh for its fifth title.

Freshman Devin Ebanks, who sent the game into overtime with two free throws with 4.8 seconds left in regulation, had 22 points and Da'Sean Butler added 21 for the seventh-seeded Mountaineers (23-11).

Cards roll after slow start

Earl Clark scored 17, and fifth-ranked Louisville turned up the pressure in the second half with two big runs to beat No. 10 Villanova 69-55 and reach the tournament title game for the first time.

Jerry Smith added 16 points for the top-seeded Cardinals (27-5), who snapped out of a funk from beyond the arc by hitting 13 3-pointers in winning their ninth straight.

The Cardinals, who face sixth-seeded Syracuse today, shot 51.5 percent from the field in the second half.

Dante Cunningham and Corey Fisher scored 14 each to lead the fourth-seeded Wildcats (26-7), who had 23 turnovers.

Big East men's basketball tournament: Syracuse defeats West Virginia in shorter marathon — just one OT this time 03/13/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 14, 2009 12:59am]
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