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Syracuse Orange holds off Connecticut Huskies in Big East tournament

Fab Melo enjoys Syracuse’s third win over UConn this season. Orange backups outscored the starters, led by Dion Waiters.

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Fab Melo enjoys Syracuse’s third win over UConn this season. Orange backups outscored the starters, led by Dion Waiters.

Round 1 Round 2 Quarterfinals Semifinals Final Semifinals Quarterfinals Round 2 Round 1
TUESDAY Wednesday THURSday TOday Saturday TOday THURSDay Wednesday TUESDAY
9 UConn 81 1 Syracuse 58 2 Marquette 71 10 Set. Hall 79
9 UConn 71 10 Set. Hall 55
16 DePaul 67 OT 9 UConn 55 7 Louisville 84 15 Prov. 47
8 W.Va. 67 1 Syracuse 7 Louisville 7 Louisville 61
5 G'town 64 4 Cincinnati 3 N. Dame 6 USF 56
12 St. John's 59 5 G'town 70 6 USF 53 Rutgers 49
13 Pitt 52 2 OT OT 14 'Nova 47
13 Pitt 73 4 Cincy 72 3 N. Dame 57 14 'Nova 70

NEW YORK — Last year, ninth-seeded Connecticut knocked off Syracuse on the way to a Big East title. On Thursday, the top-seeded Orange eliminated the Huskies, holding on for a 58-55 win to advance to the semifinals of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Syracuse (31-1) beat UConn (20-13) for the third time this season, getting great bench play from guard Dion Waiters (18) and forward James Southerland (10). Orange backups outscored the starters. UConn led 47-43 with 8:18 to play, but went 1-for-11 over the next eight minutes as Syracuse went on a 13-2 run that included eight points by Southerland.

"I think Connecticut is a really good team," Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. "I would be shocked if they don't win two games in the NCAA Tournament at a minimum."

UConn coach Jim Calhoun, whose team has played 21 games against RPI top-100 teams this season, responded to Iona coach Tim Cluess saying it would be "nonsense" to have "eight or nine" teams from the Big East in the NCAA field. He pointed out that UConn has played 21 games against RPI top-100 teams, while Iona has played four this season.

"I'm sure he's a great coach, and I have a lot of respect for what he's done certainly," Calhoun said. "But you've got to kind of tighten those laces up."

Syracuse faces fourth-seeded Cincinnati in today's semifinal; the Orange beat the Bearcats 60-53 in Cincinnati in January.

L'VILLE 84, No. 9 MARQUETTE 71: The second-seeded Golden Eagles were forced into 26 turnovers, and four Cardinals scored in double digits in advancing to today's semifinals.

Louisville (24-9) got 20 points from forward Kyle Kuric and 18 from guard Peyton Siva, who added eight rebounds and six assists. The Cardinals jumped out to a 21-6 lead, and Marquette got back within one but couldn't keep pace with Louisville, which had 26 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points. Darius Johnson-Odom led Marquette (25-7) with 23 points.

CINCINNATI 72, No. 13 G'TOWN 70, 2 OT: The Hoyas hit a shot with three seconds left to force overtime, and with less than a second left to force a second overtime, but Henry Sims' 3-pointer missed at the buzzer as the Bearcats outlasted Georgetown to reach the semifinals.

In a battle of centers, Sims had 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Cincinnati's Yancy Gates had 23 and eight, scoring 10 straight Bearcat points in the final six minutes to erase a nine-point deficit at the end of regulation. The Bearcats (23-9) won despite shooting 2-for-21 on 3-pointers and missing four free throws after the end of regulation.

"It's just unthinkable that we were able to dig it out, so I'm just really proud of the team," said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, whose team is headed to the NCAA despite a low RPI of 70, thanks to six wins against RPI top-40 teams.

Of facing Syracuse, Cronin said: "We'll show up. Game is at seven, right? We'll be here."

Sims hit the tying shot to force the second overtime.

""The first layup to put it into double overtime, obviously, felt good. But I'd much rather have that shot at the end," he said after Georgetown fell to 23-8.

Syracuse Orange holds off Connecticut Huskies in Big East tournament 03/08/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 11:58pm]
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