Best ever? It's not hyperbole. It's legitimately up for debate. In my short viewing experience - my first memories are of the 1989 title game between Michigan & Seton Hall - it takes the cake.
You've seen the stats. You know I am a Syracuse fan.
Nevertheless, here's 12 things you gotta know about perhaps the best college basketball game e-v-e-r.
All pictures credit to Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com
1) Johnny Flynn played 67 of the 70 minutes. He also played 35 minutes of the 40 last night. Math majors, that's 102 minutes since 9:30 pm last night until 1:30 am this morning.
2) Syracuse committed only 16 turnovers in 70 minutes. Even UCONN's 27 don't seem unforgiveable considering the circumstances. UCONN had a rebounding edge of 76 to 62. How many teams overcome -14 rebound deficit to win? Not many.
3) Flynn deserves the gameball; however, don't discount AJ Price. He might've gotten all of his last-second misses out of his system tonight. Price went for 33 points and 7 assists. Yet, the late game misses will hurt...until UCONN throttles their first round opponent next week. He and Jeff Adrien both left a lot of shots on the floor tonight in the closing minutes. Kemba Walker deserves a lot of credit, especiall as a freshman, for the effort. He's obviously no Jerome Dyson though. Not many are.
4) 4 straight Big East Tournament losses for UCONN. Surprising or shocking? Although here's a number in their favor, 6 times they've won 15 games or more in regular season-Big East play. The rest of the field? No more than once each.
5) Paul Harris missed more "gimmes" and "puppies" than anyone could imagine. Nevertheless, the "Niagara Falls Boys" (Flynn & Harris) made 29 of 30 free throws.
Quote of the Day:
Radio Caller: Why doesn't Paul Harris shoot more jumpers? He has a sweet-looking shot.
Jim Boeheim: Two people in the world love Paul's jump shot. You and Paul Harris.
6) Speaking of free throws. What was more shocking: Onuaku making 2 consecutive free throws near the end of regulation OR Cuse as a team making 40-51 (78%) overall and 23 of 26 (88%)? If you know anything about the Cuse in the Boeheim-era, you know this ain't exactly normal.
7) Remember that the UCONN kids and their coach had to interview after this loss. Imagine losing in 6 OTs - never actually trailing in the first 5 OTs - and having to talk about it snotty reporters and blog writers. Now is the time Calhoun - who I admitedly despise - can legitimately tell people to shutup, if he so chooses.
8) Look at the box score lines. Just look. These are unofficial.
A) Paul Harris - 29 points, 22 rebounds, (13-14 free throws), and yet it was a few layups and a missed dunk that almost cost the team. Blake Griffin has a lot of these nights in 30-25 mintues. Not in MSG against UCONN though.
B) Johnny Flynn - 33 points, 10 assists, (16-16 free throws), and only 2 personal fouls.
C) Andy Rautins - 20 points, (6-12 3 point field goals), and the backbreaking 3-pointer a mere 13 seconds in the 6th OT. Yes, the 6th OT.
D) Stanley Robinson - 29 points, 14 rebounds, 7 offensive rebounds, (11-19 FGs), and a potential return to form that will greatly enhance this Huskie team.
E) Hasheem Thabeet - 19 points, 15 rebouds, 6 blocks, and a 5th foul that left his team a shred of what is is with him. Blair, Griffin, and Hansbrough won't get 50+ minutes to draw a 5th foul on the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Oh yeah, the guy logged 50+ too.
F) Justin Thomas (walk-on) - 19 minutes all season, grabs his first rebound in the 5th OT.
G) Scottie Harrelson - 5 points and two baskets that normally win games and make Bucky Dent's out of 11th men.
9) I bitched a lot about the refs (who doesn't in the Big East against Calhoun???), but they let the kids play down the stretch. My only legitimate gripe: Jeff Adrien committed 12+ fouls. However, he was also out there to miss two potential game-winning shots. And yes, I admit the Devendorf shot was after the buzzer. I still wanted it to count...
10) Devendorf's shot was after the buzzer. Yeah, I said it again. Maybe by 0.0000001 seconds. Honestly, it was THAT close. Imagine that's the difference between a win in regulation and a historic shot AND a 6 OT game unlike any other. In the end, I honestly don't know which moment I wanted more. Doctors across upstate New York just made a fortune with elevated heart rates (credit to Pay for that gem).
11) Johnny Flynn taking that body blow trying to screen an unaware Thabeet on Devendorf's eventual miss. That is HEART. Shane Falcon-esque heart. Yeah, I said it.
12) Name a better game. Seriously. Name it. Even without a true buzzer beater for the win. Name a better game. Maybe this one?