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Posted: Thursday March 8, 2012 3:27PM ; Updated: Friday March 9, 2012 2:56AM

Big East: Orange prevail; Golden Eagles, Hoyas stunned in quarters

Story Highlights

No. 2-ranked Syracuse knocked UConn out of the Big East tournament Thursday

Louisville forced No. 9 Marquette into a season-high 26 turnovers in its 84-71 win

Cincinnati upset No. 13 Georgetown in double overtime to move to the semis

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Syracuse won its 11th straight game with Thursday's victory over UConn.
Syracuse won its 11th straight game with Thursday's victory over UConn.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

NEW YORK (AP) -- Syracuse and Connecticut had another memorable meeting in the Big East tournament.

The latest game kept Syracuse's strong season moving toward a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and ended Connecticut's memorable postseason streak.

Dion Waiters had 18 points and James Southerland scored all 10 of his points over the final 8 minutes to lead No. 2 Syracuse to a 58-55 victory Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.

The top-seeded Orange (31-1) won their 11th straight game overall and advanced to face the winner of the Georgetown-Cincinnati game in the semifinals on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

This was their first game after earning a double-bye into the quarterfinals.

"I hate sitting around all week, and it's very difficult," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "I'm glad that we were able to get a win. We haven't played that many games and we need to play again. Tomorrow's game will help us, but this was a tremendous comeback. This team has been very good down the stretch all year, and that was the case today."

The Huskies had their 13-game postseason winning streak snapped and ended a chance at making history for a second straight year.

Shabazz Napier had 15 points and Andre Drummond added 14 for the ninth-seeded Huskies (20-13), who were trying to duplicate last year's first-ever five-game run to the Big East tournament title that was followed by a six-game streak that brought the school its third national championship.

"The anguish I feel is disappointment for them," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said of his team. "They were primed mentally today to do something very special and almost pulled it off. ... No one can tell you that it wasn't a good team who was wearing blue today. Did we shoot great? No. Did we make great decisions? No. Did we play with great heart and great intensity and did we play for us and each other? Without a doubt, and I couldn't be prouder of them."

In the semifinals last year, Connecticut beat the Orange 76-71 in overtime. In the previous meeting in the tournament in 2009, Syracuse won 127-117 in a six-overtime quarterfinal.

This one ended in 40 minutes, but there once again was the chance at playing past the regulation buzzer.

The Huskies, who beat DePaul and West Virginia in the first two rounds, went 7 minutes without a field goal and during that span Syracuse was able to take the lead for good on a fallaway jumper by Waiters that made it 48-47 with 5:41 to play.

Southerland, who came into the game averaging 6.6 points, hit his second 3-pointer 16 seconds later to make it 51-47. Drummond converted an alley-oop pass from Napier with 2:32 left, the first time the Huskies were within three points.

The last time they were that close was 58-55 with 4.6 seconds left on a reverse by Drummond. After a timeout, the Orange were able to inbound the ball and run out the clock.

"We got James open a couple times. He's a tremendous shooter," Boeheim said. "He can make those shots, and he made them early in the year. He struggled a little bit during the week, but he's been making them in practice. He looked good the last game, made a big one, and we think he can make those shots and be a factor for us, a big factor for us the rest of the way. So it was good for him to get those looks.

"Our guys are very unselfish. They found him in there and got him the ball."

And Southerland, a 6-foot-8 junior from New York, knew what to do when they did.

"It felt really great out there, especially being at home and all," he said of playing in front of a sellout crowd of 20,057. "I missed my first two shots. The first one I felt was good, the second one was kind of rushed. It's good my teammates are here for me, they're not giving up on me just because I missed two shots, and it feels good. It was a great atmosphere."

Neither team shot well - Connecticut 34.4 percent, Syracuse 38.5 percent - and the Huskies controlled the boards with a 46-34 advantage, 18-8 on the offensive end, with Drummond grabbing 10, seven offensive.

"Both teams struggled shooting the ball, and both teams are very good defensively," Boeheim said. " We couldn't really get anything going offensively, and then we changed something just a little bit. Got a little bit more space."

Syracuse had a big advantage at the free throw line, finishing 15 of 23 compared to the Huskies' 5 of 10.

The Orange swept the two regular season meetings, the second 71-69 at Connecticut. Syracuse has an 8-6 advantage in the teams' Big East tournament meetings and have won six of the last seven, the only loss the six-overtime game. The Orange are 4-0 against Connecticut in the quarterfinals.

The game pitted two coaches who have had their share of struggles this season.

Boeheim, who went through the child-abuse charges and firing of longtime assistant Bernie Fine and recent allegations of former players in the program failing drug tests, won his 887th game, second on the all-time list.

"This was reported five years ago, and we're waiting for them to finish the process," Boeheim said when asked about the drug tests. "If things were bothering us we wouldn't be 31-1. Nothing bothers us. We come ready to play. That's what you should do in life. Everybody gets bothered. Everybody has problems. I'm much more concerned about my wife being mad at me than I am anything else, to tell you the truth."

Calhoun was suspended for the first three conference games for failure to maintain control of his program when it was charged with NCAA violations and he missed eight games with back problems, returning four games ago following spinal surgery. The Huskies won his first three games back, bringing him to 873 wins, sixth on the all-time list.

"I love Jim Boeheim like a brother, and through everything else, and I've told people this through the whole year, including other things that have gone on, he's done an incredible job coaching his team and being unselfish and giving to each other, and they're just a terrific basketball team, capable in my opinion of winning a national championship," Calhoun said.

No. 23 Notre Dame 57, South Florida 53 (OT)

Notre Dame is in the semifinals of the Big East tournament for the fifth time. The Fighting Irish are hoping they can finally get to the championship game.

Eric Atkins scored all six of his points in overtime to lead No. 23 Notre Dame to a 57-53 victory.

The third-seeded Fighting Irish (22-10) will play seventh-seeded Louisville in the semifinals on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The Cardinals (24-9) beat second-seeded and ninth-ranked Marquette 84-71.

It will be a rematch of last year's semifinal that saw Louisville advance to the championship game, where it lost to Connecticut.

"I really believe this group, of all my teams, is most equipped to get to Saturday night," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "It's something we talked about in our program for a while. It's the next step. I think our program has been extremely consistent and solid in the Big East, but playing on Saturday would mean a lot, and I think this group has really digested it. Of course, we played the same guys who stopped us from getting there last year in Louisville."

Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant both had 12 points for Notre Dame in the quarterfinal victory that was about as far from an offensive masterpiece as two teams can get.

The game was expected to be a defensive one and it lived up to the billing. The teams combined for a total of seven points over the final 6 minutes of regulation. They picked up the pace in the 5-minute overtime with Notre Dame outscoring the Bulls 12-8.

Neither team broke 40 percent from the field for the game. In the second half, Notre Dame was 4 of 20 from the field and South Florida 8 of 26.

"I'm proud of our group," Brey said. "That's a little bit how we played all year, like that's a little bit of when it gets down to those last 2 or 3 minutes of really believing. You know, I hadn't really seen that much the last three games. During our nine-game run we stole many like that, and it's nice to see. Maybe we can keep that recipe going."

Victor Rudd Jr. had 16 points for the sixth-seeded Bulls (20-13), who advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Villanova, the farthest they have ever gone in the conference tournament.

"I'm real proud of my guys. That was a heck of a game," said South Florida's Stan Heath who was selected the conference's Coach of the Year after taking the Bulls from a 14th pick in the preseason poll to a 12-6 record "We had it. I thought we just let it slip away in regulation and made some mistakes and didn't finish some plays that we should have finished.

"But I thought we played hard. We were much better on the defensive end the second half. We did a good job sharing the ball and taking care of it and getting some quality shots and just came up a little bit short. That's a very good basketball team at Notre Dame. Hats off for the way they found a way to win. Hopefully, we erased any doubt in terms of what kind of basketball team we are and proved that we belong. We definitely belong."

Anthony Collins, who finished with 13 points and seven assists, gave South Florida a 45-42 lead with 2:44 left in regulation when he scored on a drive to the basket.

Grant made two free throws with 38 seconds left to bring the Fighting Irish within a point. It appeared South Florida would put the game away when Jawanza Poland took a long inbounds pass but he missed a layup. He was able to corral the loose ball and was fouled with 30 seconds left only to miss the front end of a 1-and-1.

"I guess you could say it slipped," Poland said. "I had a wide-open layup. I should have made it, but I didn't.

"I put it out (of my head), I just missed the free throw. It's hard. I could have put my team up with (30) seconds to go."

Connaughton made the first of two free throws with 28 seconds left to tie it. Collins drove the lane but lost the ball. In the ensuing scramble a jump ball was called with 0.6 seconds left and the possession arrow belonged to South Florida. The Bulls inbounded the ball under the basket but a lob was knocked away at the buzzer.

Connaughton made two free throws with 3:53 left in overtime to give Notre Dame the lead for good at 49-48. The Irish extended the lead to 54-50 on a 3 by Atkins with 29 seconds to go.

After a turnover by each team, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick hit a 3 for South Florida with 2.5 seconds left. Atkins made one of two free throws with 1.6 seconds left and after another Bulls turnover, Connaughton made two free throws with one-tenth of a second left for the final margin.

"I tried to be confident all throughout the game. I really didn't hit anything all game, though," said Atkins, who came in averaging 12.4 points. "But Coach gives me the confidence to just keep playing, keep shooting. You know, I got the balls thrown to me, and I just knocked it down. `'

This was the 10th straight game South Florida held an opponent under 60 points. The Bulls set a conference record this season by allowing 56.9 points per game.

"Well, ugly is in the eye of the beholder. I love the way we play," Heath said. "I'd like to get a little bit more maybe transition baskets and get a little bit more penetration and kick and some things like that. But I have no problems. I don't apologize at all for how hard my guys defend. I'm proud of it. I think there's probably 90 percent of the coaches that would love to do the same thing. So there's no apologies."

Louisville 84, No. 9 Marquette 71

Peyton Siva and his pesky Louisville teammates looked even faster than usual in those flashy orange jerseys.

Kyle Kuric scored 20 points, Siva added 18 and Louisville forced No. 9 Marquette into a season-high 26 turnovers.

Wearing a new set of bright, neon-looking uniforms, the seventh-seeded Cardinals flashed their quick hands all over the court and held Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder to 10 points in 31 foul-plagued minutes.

"I thought the guys did a tremendous job of pushing the pace tonight, getting a lot of easy baskets for us," coach Rick Pitino said.

Marquette entered as the top-scoring squad in the league at 76.1 points per game. But the defense of Chane Behanan and reserve Jared Swopshire made it a very tough night for Crowder and his teammates.

"It was fun for me," Swopshire said. "He's a great player, and me and Chane talked about it when I subbed in that we wanted to keep him from getting touches, especially in the paint area. So, I feel like we were able to do that."

Russ Smith and Behanan each scored 12 points for Louisville (24-9), which plays No. 23 Notre Dame, the third seed, on Friday night.

Darius Johnson-Odom had 23 points to pace No. 2 seed Marquette (25-7), blown out by Louisville in the quarterfinals last year as well. The Golden Eagles trailed by 15 just 6 minutes in and never took the lead. They have yet to make it past the tournament semifinals since joining the Big East for the 2005-06 season.

Siva had another outstanding all-around game at point guard, piling up eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. He had 14 points and six steals in a 61-55 victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday night.

"He played terrific, but I've got to somehow get him a few blows," Pitino said. "Going into this tournament we were hoping he would turn it around, and he is, and we had a long talk. I used the analogy of the New York Giants - nobody remembers the regular season anymore when they went into the playoffs, just matters what you do in the postseason."

Smith also was a pest, snatching five of Louisville's 14 steals. No wonder Pitino said Wednesday night that his squad is one of the best defensive teams in the country.

"The style, we go up and down. That's what Coach wants us to do," Behanan said. "All the teams we played so far in the Big East, they expect us to slow it down. So now coming in, we agreed we were going to play up and down like we (were) in the Bahamas. We've just got to get used to it and attack everybody the same way in each game. That's how we've been getting up. That's it."

Junior Cadougan coughed up the ball a team-high eight times and the 26 turnovers by Marquette, which averaged only 12.8 all season, were one shy of the Big East tournament record. The Golden Eagles' previous high this season was 17.

Marquette overcame an 18-2 deficit at home to beat Louisville in their only other meeting this season, and the Golden Eagles fell behind early again. This time, Louisville's swarming defense was too much to overcome.

"They kept hounding us," Johnson-Odom said. "I think we had an idea that they were going to pressure us. I didn't think it was going to be at a high level like that."

Vander Blue's layup cut it to 54-50 with 13:29 remaining, but Kuric drained a three-pointer and Smith hit a pair of free throws with 11:22 to go. Marquette never got closer than seven again.

It was the fourth time in five years that the No. 7 seed beat the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals at the Big East tournament.

The Cardinals, who won the 2009 tournament title and lost to Connecticut in last year's championship game, scored 50 points in the first half - their biggest outburst in a half this season. They finished with 26 offensive rebounds and 23 points off turnovers.

"I'm not sure that they've had a better meal all year long than what we served them tonight," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "I did a really bad job.

"It never seemed to be in sync. `Seemed like we just kept passing the mic at a karaoke bar and I'm not sure of the words - you try. We were kicking the ball everywhere. They were taking it from us, just no good, never in rhythm, never in sync."

Swopshire had eight points and 12 rebounds in 20 minutes for Louisville, which held Marquette to 2-for-13 shooting from 3-point range in a game that had a much faster pace than most in this week's event at Madison Square Garden.

Jamil Wilson had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for Marquette.

Just like their previous matchup, Louisville jumped on the Golden Eagles from the opening tip. The Cardinals forced nine turnovers in the first 10:14 and opened a 21-6 lead on Behanan's jumper with 14 minutes to go in the first half.

But then Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng was hit with a technical for protesting a foul call. He went to the bench with three fouls at the 8:15 mark and Pitino shouted up at the 6-foot-10 center, who put his hand on the coach's shoulder.

"I don't know if Gorgui knows that a technical foul is a personal foul, as well," Pitino said. "In Senegal I don't think they have that rule."

Marquette trailed 30-19 when Dieng took a seat but trimmed it to 34-33 on Wilson's putback with 3:57 left in the half. Kuric's 3-pointer started a 16-7 run that sent the Cardinals into halftime with a 50-40 advantage.

Dieng checked back in with 14:01 remaining and finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks - increasing his school record to 107 blocked shots this season. Kuric also had three blocks as Louisville racked up 50 rebounds and nine blocked shots, their best totals in a Big East tournament game.

Cincinnati 72, No. 13 Georgetown 70 (2OT)

Georgetown big man Henry Sims had the ball at the top of the key with the 13th-ranked Hoyas trailing in the final seconds.

At the end of the first overtime, he put the ball on the floor for the tying layup. At the close of the second OT, he had to force up a 3-point attempt from beyond his range, and the potential winning shot missed in a loss to Cincinnati in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.

"I'd much rather have that shot at the end,'' Sims said.

The Hoyas (23-8) wasted an 11-point lead with less than 8 minutes left in regulation but twice hit last-second shots to force an extra period. Georgetown committed six turnovers over those 8 minutes; they had only eight the rest of the game.

"We had some very untimely turnovers at key junctures,'' coach John Thompson III said. "They got some second shots at key junctures.''

In his back-and-forth big man duel with the Bearcats' Yancy Gates, Sims had 22 points and 15 rebounds for his second straight double-double at the tournament. The senior had just one double-double during the regular season and led Georgetown in scoring in only three games before doing it twice in two days at Madison Square Garden.

"He's made a natural progression each year, and you see this year the fruits of a lot of hard work that he put in starting this summer and rededicating himself to being a good basketball player,'' Thompson said.

Gates scored 23 points, including two baskets in the final 2 minutes of regulation to give Cincinnati its first lead since midway through the first half. His presence also drew the Georgetown defense on the Bearcats' final possession of the second OT, freeing Cashmere Wright to bank in a runner with 7.6 seconds to go for the winning points.

"It was all set by Yancy,'' he said. "They were respecting him so much - like when he ducked in, seemed like the whole team just sucked into him, so the hole just opened up wide open, and I just took it upon myself to try to win the game for my team.''

After a timeout with 1:56 left in regulation, the Bearcats got the ball inside to Gates, who scored over Sims to pull Cincinnati within a point. Then when Wright missed a drive with 38 seconds remaining, Gates put it back for a 53-52 lead.

Dion Dixon made the front end of a one-and-one with 25.9 seconds to go but missed the second. The fifth-seeded Hoyas chose not to call a timeout, and with the clock winding down, Sims found Otto Porter open for a short jumper with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

Dixon again made just one of two free throws with 19.7 seconds left in the first OT to put Cincinnati up 62-60.

After a timeout, the Hoyas couldn't get their offense going as the clock dwindled. The 6-10, 245-pound Sims found himself with the ball at the top of the key, so the big guy put it on the floor. With long stride after long stride, he barreled toward the basket as the seconds ticked away, releasing a layup just before the buzzer to send the game to a second OT.

"We both were caught up on getting tough baskets down the stretch for our team,'' Gates said, "so it was just a good battle between two big men, two seniors, too, trying to stay in New York for a day longer.''

The Bearcats (23-9) face second-ranked Syracuse in Friday's semifinals.

Cincinnati won despite missing 19 of 21 3-point attempts. Dixon, who scored 22 points in the Bearcats road win in the teams' first meeting, was 4 of 17 from the field, 0 of 6 from behind the arc and 5 of 9 from the foul line.

The teams tied with South Florida for fourth place during the regular season, with the Bearcats winning the tiebreaker to earn a double bye in the Big East tournament for the first time since joining the conference for the 2005-06 season.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
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