(13) Syracuse 70

(24-6, 11-5 Big East)

(15) Connecticut 88

(21-6, 13-3 Big East)

    4:00 PM ET, March 5, 2005

    XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut

    1 2 T
    #13SYR 37 3370
    #15CONN 37 5188

    Top Performers

    Syracuse: H. Warrick 25 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl

    Connecticut: R. Gay 16 Pts, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

    Boeheim stuck on 700 as Syracuse falls

    STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- As the final seconds ticked off in Connecticut's record-setting ninth Big East regular-season championship Saturday, Jim Calhoun thought of his first with the Huskies.

    "I recollected back to '89-90, our first Big East championship, and how special it was," the coach said after the Huskies (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) beat No. 13 Syracuse 88-70 for at least a share of this year's title.

    "This team, coming back from Notre Dame after a real tough loss, was 4-3 in the league. They went on to win nine straight games, six without our leading scorer. I have to say the two most satisfying championships clearly were that first one and this one," he said.

    Connecticut (21-6, 13-3) ended up sharing the title with Boston College after the No. 5 Eagles beat Rutgers 78-66 on Saturday night. With the victory, Boston College secured the No. 1 seed in next week's Big East tournament.

    "This means a lot because people were downing us when we were 4-3," sophomore forward Charlie Villanueva said of the title. "The accomplishments we did are unbelievable. We are still not done. We still have a lot more things to do."

    Like defend the national championship.

    "We were 12-4 in the league last year and won the national championship and we're 13-3 this year," Calhoun said, a smile breaking across his face. "We did lose some players from that team in case you hadn't noticed."

    That would be Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon, the second and third picks in the NBA draft as juniors, and Taliek Brown, Connecticut's career assists leader.

    "We're growing," Calhoun said of his senior-less nine-man rotation that has played the last seven games without leading scorer Rashad Anderson, who is recovering from surgery following a staph infection.

    The Huskies used some impressive second-half defense to beat the Orange (24-6, 11-5) and win for the ninth time in 10 games. The only loss in that stretch was a nonconference game against North Carolina.

    It is the third time in four seasons Connecticut has won at least a share of the title and it broke the tie with Syracuse for most in conference history.

    "Connecticut has played very, very well over the last part of the season," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "They have played the best basketball of any team in our league and I think they are playing as well as the top three or four teams in the country."

    The Huskies pulled away from a 37-37 halftime tie with a 7-2 run. A 9-2 run capped by a layup by Josh Boone gave Connecticut a 53-43 lead with 14:45 to play.

    Hakim Warrick had 25 points for Syracuse, the third seed in the Big East tournament, but he was 0-for-6 from the field in the second half, scoring all his points on a 10-for-16 effort from the free-throw line.

    Gerry McNamara added 12 points for the Orange, but he was 2-for-10 from 3-point range and Syracuse was 2-for-22 from beyond the arc for the game. It was the Orange's third loss in five games.

    "They do a good job on Gerry, they got him," Boeheim said. "They've done a great job on him."

    Marcus Williams had the assignment on McNamara the most for the Huskies.

    "We just tried to deny him early and late and tried to keep the ball out of his hands," Williams said. "I think sometimes he runs himself out of gas. I think that's what he did today."

    The game was a matchup of coaches who earned their 700th career victory in their last games. Calhoun was the first to 701 and he leads the personal matchup between them 21-18.

    It was the fourth time this season two coaches with at least 700 wins met. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski beat Temple's John Chaney and Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton beat Texas Tech's Bob Knight twice.

    Rudy Gay had 16 points for the Huskies, while Williams had 11 points and 10 assists and Villanueva had nine points and 14 rebounds.

    "We were immense around the basket," Calhoun said. "There weren't any easy shots to be had."

    When McNamara finally hit his second 3 in his 10th attempt, the Orange were 2-for-18. That brought Syracuse to 77-61, but Gay scored the next four points for the Huskies' first 20-point lead.

    Connecticut finished 30-for-36 from the line, while the Orange were 22-for-39.

    "It was an all-out foul-shooting contest that got in the way of a really good basketball game," Calhoun said.

    But he wasn't complaining.

    "It was quite a week," he said. "We talked today about getting that trophy and holding it up at the end. We'll out it away Monday and get ready for postseason play."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 70 88
    FG Made-Attempted 23-75 (.307) 26-48 (.542)
    3P Made-Attempted 2-22 (.091) 6-17 (.353)
    FT Made-Attempted 22-39 (.564) 30-36 (.833)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (0/0) 27 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 6 21

    2004-05 Season

    Feb 7, 2005 CONN 74, @SYR 66Recap
    » Mar 5, 2005 @CONN 88, SYR 70Recap
    Mar 11, 2005 SYR 67, @CONN 63Recap