On this day in 2009, the Syracuse Orange and the UConn Huskies battled in what is not only one of the best games in Big East history, but one of the best games in the history of college hoops. Following two high-paced and back-and-forth, but normal, periods of play in the quarterfinal matchup, Eric Devendorf (who to this day is one of my favorite players in the history of college hoops) hit a shot that was so improbable, so bizarre, so cold-blooded, that it had to be too good to be true.
And it just so happened that it was too good to be true. With Devendorf being an absolute beast and doing the classic stand-up-on-the-scorers’-table celebration (the dude from Radnor really missed out on a perfect opportunity for this in exchange for a pretty lame celebration), the refs went to the monitor and waved off the shot.
What followed is something that I don’t know I’ve ever fully accepted in the nine years since it occurred. The number 20 Orange and the number four Huskies played until the early morning of March 13, 2009, thanks to six overtimes. The extra thirty minutes of gameplay led to a 56-46 Syracuse advantage, for the Orange to finally win by a final of 127-117 after nearly four hours in Madison Square Garden.
It’s obvious this was an instant classic. Sportscenter spent more than eight minutes on a single college basketball segment and it wasn’t slobbing Trae Young’s knob or talking about scandals.
As expected, the box score is an absolute spectacle to behold. Johnny Flynn, who was also a lot of fun, led the game with points and minutes, logging 34 and 67 (!), respectively. He was one of three players in the game, along with Devendorf and A.J. Price, to log more than an hour of playing time.
Beyond being a classic, this game is the perfect microcosm of what March is for college basketball. The game is just different in March. Every kid plays harder. Every shot means more. The wear and tear on your legs can wait because the glory of being Big East Champion is more important than thge pain of running for an hour and ten minutes.