NEW YORK — Peyton Siva had 11 points and eight assists to lead No. 4 Louisville to a 78-61 victory over No. 19 Syracuse on Saturday night, giving the Cardinals their second straight Big East tournament title.
The Cardinals got their third title overall by overcoming a 16-point second-half deficit — almost double the previous championship game record — and kept pouring it on once they got the lead, going ahead by as many as 18 points.
Second-seeded Louisville (29-5), with Georgetown and Marquette a tri-champion of the regular season, won its 10th straight game with its defense, forcing Syracuse into 20 turnovers and keeping the Orange offbalance during a 24-3 run that turned the 16-point deficit into a 56-48 lead with 8:51 left.
"I knew we would come back," Siva said during the on-court celebration. "It might not be the prettiest win in the beginning, but we got the job done."
Siva joined Georgetown's Patrick Ewing in 1984 and 1985 as the only repeat tournament MVP selections.
"I don't know how I am in the same sentence as Patrick Ewing," he said.
It was a heartbreaking loss for fifth-seeded Syracuse (26-9), which was hoping to leave Madison Square Garden with its sixth title as it heads for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
The Cardinals will join them in the ACC the following season. But this was the game that signified the end of the Big East as we know it, with the seven basketball-only schools leaving to form a new conference and keeping the name Big East and the tournament at Madison Square Garden.
None of that mattered once the championship game started, and it looked as if Syracuse would romp to the title as it scored the first eight points and took a 35-22 halftime lead. People were scrambling through the record books to find the largest margin of victory in a Big East championship game.
Instead the search was on for the biggest halftime deficit overcome: nine points, by Louisville over Syracuse in 2009.
The Cardinals didn't just overcome the deficit, they made it disappear quickly. Louisville went ahead 73-55 with 2:03 to play.