NEW YORK - At the very least, the fans in the Garden should expect to get their money's worth when Syracuse is playing. For the second straight night, the Orange needed overtime to get the job done. And for the second straight night, they succeeded.
Syracuse didn't need six overtimes on this occasion but an extra period provided the separation between the Orange and West Virginia.
It did look like there was a chance of another overtime with West Virginia bringing the ball up down three with 19 seconds remaining, but Darryl Bryant's three-pointer was blocked. That led to an easy breakout layup for Eric Devendorf to seal the win.
WVU coach Bob Huggins put the failed game-tying possession on his shoulders. Huggins called a timeout a moment prior but did not outline everything his team was supposed to do.
"It was my fault. 20 seconds to go, I wanna make sure we’re organized defensively," said Huggins. "I should have in hindsight said what we needed to do if we needed a three and I didn’t do that. [Bryant] just wanted to make a play."
The game went to overtime because Devin Ebanks drove into the lane and was fouled with 4.8 seconds to go. He nailed both.
Syracuse jumped out to a 69-63 lead before WVU whittled away at the deficit, starting with a De'Sean Butler elbow jumper.
The Orange helped them out by missed crucial three throws. Paul Harris missed a free throw with 19 seconds remaining, that would have put the game away.
But West Virginia couldn't make it go to a second overtime.
That had to be a relief for Jonny Flynn. The frenetic guard played 67 minutes against Connecticut and followed it up with the full 45 against WVU. He showed signs of exhaust, shooting just 4-13. But he still finished with 15 points, 9 assists and 2 assists.
Flynn got a lot of help from his backcourt mates. Eric Devendorf had a game high 23 points and Andy Rautins contributed 12 off the bench.
The victory showed that talks of tiredness were overblown. Rautins said that his team was feeling pretty good after Thursday night and Kristof Ongenaet believed going to another overtime was somewhat of a blessing.
"Def after last night we’re pretty good in overtime," said the forward after grabbing a game-high ten rebounds, scoring six points, and four thieves. "We’re stronger than yesterday. Yesterday we had 6, today we only had one."
Syracuse went into the half up 36-29, thanks to a half-court miracle. Devendorf unleashed a shot from beyond half-court that went in right at the buzzer to extend SU's lead.
The shot and the halftime deficit wasn't enough to drown the Mountaineers. Led by Butler and Ebanks, who scored 21 and 22 points respectively, they battled back.
It culminated with the freshman at the line, under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and a sold out crowd.
"All I tried to do was basically clear my mind, not let the crowd effect me," said Ebanks of his thoughts at the time.
The victory sends Syracuse to the Big East Tournament final for the 14th time, looking for their sixth title. In their way will be Louisville, who decimated Villanova earlier in the evening.