The game was over. Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf's impossible shot at the buzzer had propelled the Orange to a victory over Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim looked like former NC State coach Jim Valvano, running around with his arms spread looking for someone to embrace in victory, Meanwhile the hero Devendorf jumped up on the scorer's table so the fans could get a better look at the new edition of Christian Laettner. It was a beautiful sight, except it didn't count — and not until six overtime periods and about an hour later was a winner finally decided.
After being analyzed by the officials, the shot was waved off. So the game, thought to be in the books, was thrust into overtime. The rest is history.
Syracuse eventually won, pulling out a 127-117 victory in the sixth overtime. It was the second-longest Division I game of all time. The numbers, like the game itself, were historic — three hours 46 minutes long, 244 combined points, eight fouled out players, six double-doubles. If you took the two best games played in the Big East this season and put them together, they might still come up short of this masterpiece.
Syracuse didn't lead in any of the first five overtimes, but when they finally took the lead on Andy Rautin's three-pointer early in the sixth overtime, they kept it for good. Jonny Flynn had a game-high 34 points and Paul Harris had 29 points and 22 rebounds. Connecticut's A.J. Price led his team with 33 points and 10 assists.
"It would have been a lot better if they just counted Eric's shot and we could have gone home two hours ago," Boeheim said in the post-game press conference. "But that's the way it goes."
Easier, maybe. But better? Not even close.
A championship in the Cards
Most of the world will remember this year's Big East tournament for that legendary six overtime game, but at least in one place – Louisville – that game was second-page material. That's because the Louisville Cardinals won their first-ever Big East championship, defeating an exhausted Syracuse team 76-66.
With tournament favorites Pittsburgh and Connecticut both losing their first games, the title was Louisville's for the taking, and the high-flying team led by All-Big East First Team selection Terrence Williams took full advantage. Louisville beat Providence in the quarterfinals and then Villanova in the semis en route to their championship win over Syracuse. The Cardinals also won the regular season championship with a 16-2 conference record. Syracuse went into halftime with the lead, but came out looking sluggish in the second half. Louisville's Earl Clark had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
A look to the tourney
With the regular season wrapped up, the Big East can start looking ahead to their NCAA Tournament match-ups. The conference put seven teams in the tournament, including three No. 1 seeds in Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Louisville. The first round Big East schedule looks like this: No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 16 Eastern Tennessee State; No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 16 UT-Chattanooga; No. 3 Villanova vs. No. 14 American University; No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Stephen F. Austin; No. 6 Marquette vs. No. 11 Utah State; and No. 6 West Virginia vs. No. 11 Dayton. The No. 1 overall seed, Louisville, will play the winner of the play-in game.
Player of the week
If scientists cut open Syracuse sophomore Jonny Flynn right now, they wouldn't find any of the usual internal organs that normal humans possess. In their place, they would see two larger-than-life Energizer batteries — only fitting for the player who seems to keep going and going.
The pint-sized warrior played an astounding 67 minutes in the sixovertime game against Connecticut, all 45 minutes in their single overtime win against West Virginia, and 34 minutes in the championship loss to Louisville. He had 22 points and 10 assists, and 11 points and six assists in those last two games, respectively. Flynn was named the tournament MVP, but wasn't satisfied with the award.
"I would trade the trophy to win the Big East Tournament any day. The team awards are way better," Flynn said. "I'm just very disappointed. I wasn't even fatigued." Syracuse's superman was the first player on a losing team to win the award since Victor Page did it for Georgetown in 1996.