"We're looking forward to Connecticut," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said during the weekly Big East coaches' conference call Thursday. "You know they played us evenly for almost the whole game here, then we had a spurt at the end. So we know how difficult they can be. It was a two-point game here and I still think they're a very good team. It will be a very difficult game Saturday."
Jeremy Lamb, who scored 18 points, led UConn in that Feb. 11 game at the Carrier Dome. Andre Drummond scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Drummond rallied UConn early in the second half, but he rolled his right ankle with just under 14 minutes to play and went to the bench. That changed the momentum, and Drummond did not score the remainder of the game
Scoop Jardine (21 points) made consecutive three-point baskets late in the game as the Orange pulled away for the victory. Syracuse's bench, led by Dion Waters and C.J. Fair, outscored UConn's bench 36-9. Fair had 14 points and 12 rebounds and he creates matchup problems for the Huskies. Boeheim may have the deepest team he has ever had at Syracuse.
Wednesday night against South Florida, Syracuse missed 12 of its first 14 shots but was able to overcome a 13-point deficit and make clutch shots down the stretch on the way to a 56-48 victory. Syracuse (28-1, 15-1 Big East) has matched school records for most regular-season and conference victories.
"We got off to a slow start, made a real good comeback and then South Florida came back at us," Boeheim said. "We made some plays at the end of the game offensively and defensively to win the game, which we've been doing all year."
Syracuse has won despite dealing with adversity all season. From the Bernie Fine scandal that led to the firing of the long-time assistant coach, to the suspension of center Fab Melo, the Orange have adjusted and won at least a share of the Big East regular season title.
Boeheim is in the Hall of Fame and has nothing to prove, but this may go down as his greatest season.
"He is the Mick Jagger of college coaching," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Boeheim. "He's getting better with age. I'm really impressed with how he has handled everything and how he's handled this team.
"I don't know if people realize how difficult it is when you have a lot of good players and you are successful. Dealing with success sometimes is much harder than dealing with losing. He's handled it better than anyone I've ever seen. This is definitely one of his best jobs."