Rapid Reaction: UConn 76, Syracuse 71

March, 11, 2011
3/11/11
9:44
PM ET
NEW YORK -- A quick take on Connecticut's 76-71 overtime win over Syracuse on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

What it means: UConn (25-9), the No. 9 seed, wins its fourth game in four days and advances to the Big East championship game by knocking off the No. 4 seed Syracuse (26-7). The Huskies were 0-8 in the regular season against the teams seeded No. 1 through No. 6 in this tournament. Now they've beaten No. 1 Pitt and No. 4 Syracuse back to back.

Star watch: Kemba Walker, who had 78 points in his first three games of this tournament, poured in 33 more -- shattering the Big East single tournament scoring record in the process. Walker shot 9-for-18 from the field, and 13-for-14 on free throws.

Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine had big games for the Orange, finishing with 20 points each.

The skinny: The first half of this one was an intense, low-scoring battle. Syracuse jumped out to a 12-5 lead. UConn bounced back and took command, leading 26-21. Syracuse scored the last four points of the half, cutting it to 26-25 at intermission. Syracuse shot a woeful 10-for-37 from the field (27 percent); UConn was even worse, at 8-for-30 (26.7 percent).

Both teams shot the ball much better in the second half. Connecticut appeared to have control, leading 68-62 with 25.1 seconds left in regulation. But two clutch Jardine 3-pointers sandwiched around a missed 1-and-1 by Shabazz Napier enabled Syracuse to send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, the Orange missed the front end of two one-and-one's at the foul line, freshman Jeremy Lamb made two critical buckets late, and Walker finished it off with two free throws.

Number crunch: Let's take a look at the rest of Walker's stat line, in addition to his 33 points. The diminutive 6-foot-1 guard had 12 rebounds, to go along with five assists and six steals. Simply spectacular.

What's next: UConn will play its fifth game in five days on Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET, against the winner of No. 2 seed Notre Dame and No. 3 seed Louisville, for the Big East championship. Syracuse heads home to central New York, and awaits Selection Sunday.

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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