They're no longer conference rivals, but some of Syracuse's most cherished wins came at the expense of the still-hated Huskies.
January 2000: Etan and Hart attack Huskies
Jason Hart, Ryan Blackwell and Etan Thomas came to Syracuse after the 1996 Final Four, only to watch UConn go to the Elite 8 and then win the national championship one year later, in 1999. The next season, Syracuse started out undefeated, climbing to No. 4 in the national rankings, but heard the same doubts about cupcake opponents and never leaving New York. The smirking Khalid El-Amin and the preening Jake Voskuhl, two all-time Husky villains, returned to the Dome on January 24, 2000, with a No. 6 ranking. A 22-2 Syracuse first half run sent the crowd into such a lather it felt like a halftime court storming was possible. Syracuse won 88-74. The Hart, Blackwell and Thomas era ended in Detroit to the Flintstones and eventual national champion Michigan State, who made a run of their own to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
November 2015: Bahamian Rhapsody
On Thanksgiving Day, WHO NEEDS FOOTBALL when you have Syracuse and UConn? Instead of Madison Square Garden, the venue was the grand ballroom of the Atlantis Paradise Island resort. Anyone not already napping saw glimpses of the Final Four run to come at the end of the season, with freshmen Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson hitting huge threes and igniting a second-half comeback run. (Virginia Cavaliers tryptophan joke here.) Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and Tyler Roberson all scored in double figures as the Orange won, 79-76. Syracuse beat Texas A&M the next day, coming back from the Bahamas with a Battle 4 Atlantis title.
March 2005: Hak's counterattack
Around this time, the Huskies became really annoying. Syracuse wins a national championship in 2003, UConn wins one the next season. In 2005, UConn embarrassed Syracuse in both regular season meetings. All-American Hakim Warrick had grace and hops but was pushed, shoved and bullied by roughnecks Charlie Villanueva, Hilton Armstrong and Josh Boone. In the Big East Tournament semi-finals, however, Warrick (or Warwick, as color commentator Len Elmore frequently called him) got his revenge. The senior had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Gerry McNamara added several crucial free throws down the stretch to win 67-63. Syracuse then beat West Virginia to win the Big East crown. (Less said about Vermont, Worcester, or parking lots, the better.)
March 2006: Legend-Gerry
McNamara had thrown enough daggers by this point that other teams and fans were glad this was his last conference tournament. But this final trip to MSG was his farewell tour, as Syracuse was in no way making the Big Dance, and as a 9 seed, given zero chance to run the Big East gauntlet. GMac’s running three-pointer to beat Cincinnati, and Jim Boeheim’s OVERRATED??? press conference explosion set the stage for a third matchup that season with No. 1 Connecticut. UConn again won both regular season games, stormed back in the second half and were up three with 11.2 seconds to go. GMac was not guarded on the inbounds pass, took the ball up himself, moved right approaching the top of the key and hit a three over the outstretched hand of Rashad Anderson. ONIONS. The Orange won 86-84 in overtime and then took down despised foes Georgetown and Pittsburgh to secure a 2nd straight Big East title.
March 2009: You don't need a Sixth sense to guess the best moment
It’s an overdone word, but EPIC applies to the six-overtime, record-setting Big East Tournament tilt in 2009. It wasn’t the prettiest, most efficient, but dramatic yes – and easily among the greatest basketball games ever. Where were you when Eric Devendorf hit a three at the buzzer to win – only to have it waved off? Where were you when Andy Rautins hit clutch three after three, or when Paul Harris was stymied by the rim over and over? Do you remember the walk-on who subbed in for Devendorf when he fouled out? (Answer is Justin Thomas.) Do you remember seldom-seen freshman Kris Joseph playing center after Arinze Onuaku, Rick Jackson and Kristof Ongenaet also had to sit? Do you remember Jonny Flynn, who poured in 34 points, saying “I can’t even feel my legs right now” after playing nearly the entire game? After the 127-117 win, Boeheim had the final word: “I’ve never been prouder of any team I’ve ever coached.
“Woulda been a lot better if they’d have just counted Eric’s shot and we could have gone home two hours ago.”