Post-game breakdown, video: Syracuse
UConn suffered a tough loss, falling to No. 2 Syracuse, 71-69, at Gampel Pavilion.
"It was a great game," sophomore Roscoe Smith said. "Hats off to Syracuse. … It was an electrifying game – a lot of intensity."
The Huskies may regret letting this game get away. They can blame a sluggish start.
They can't afford to fall behind by 17 early in the second half against the Big East regular season champion.
With two regular season games left, UConn is 17-11 overall, 7-9 in the Big East.
The loss also damages UConn's NCAA tournament hopes.
Some news, notes and quotes:
First, let's address the two non-calls in the game.
Yes, Smith was fouled on his game-tying drive with a second remaining. The replays clearly showed that C.J. Fair grabbed Smith before blocking his shot.
But Smith knows an official is not going to make that call in the closing seconds, so he can live with it.
"They probably really didn't want to have the game decided on it," Smith said. "I got fouled and everybody saw it."
Freshman Andre Drummond also was open on the play but thought Smith made the right decision to go to the basket.
"He got hammered, but I guess there was no call," Drummond said.
In another disputed non-call, Syracuse sophomore Feb Melo appeared to take the ball off the rim when he converted a rebound dunk for the game-winning basket with 31.4 seconds left.
"I thought it was on the rim…," Smith said. "They gave him the put-back dunk so you couldn't do anything about it."
"It happens," Drummond said. "It's part of basketball."
-- Once again, Syracuse's depth was a major factor. Reserves out-scored their UConn counterparts, 26-0.
The Orange had a 36-9 edge in bench points while winning the first meeting, 84-67, on Feb. 11 at the Carrier Dome.
Eight different Syracuse players scored compared to just five for UConn.
-- Sophomore Jeremy Lamb led the Huskies with 19 points. Drummond had a big second half, scoring 13 of his 17 points and grabbing 10 of his 14 rebounds after intermission. He scored eight of his team's final 10 points.
"I tried to go out there and give it my all," Drummond said.
Freshman Ryan Boatright had 14 points and Smith added 11 points.
-- For the second straight game, sophomore Shabazz Napier came off the bench. He went scoreless for the second time this season, missing all three shots. He had seven assists and three turnovers in 32 minutes.
-- Associate coach George Blaney wonders when UConn will finally get the message that it needs to play hard for an entire game.
"The message continues to be: full possessions, full games," Blaney said. "For some reason we continue to not be able to do that."
-- The Huskies dropped to 3-4 without coach Jim Calhoun.
Calhoun is undergoing a surgical procedure Monday to try to help alleviate the pain in his lower back. He'll spend a day or two in the hospital and then be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
There's a chance that he'll be on the sidelines for the regular season finale against Pittsburgh but that will depend on the outcome of the surgery and length of his recovery period.
Former UConn standout Rudy Gay is convinced Calhoun will continue his coaching career.
"He's not going to be finished until he says he's finished," Gay said. "His back or anything else is not going to stop him from coaching. It's going to be his decision.
"That's what everybody loves about him; He's fiery and he's going to do what he wants to do, no matter what. … I learned a lot from him."
Gay, who left UConn in 2006 following his sophomore season for the NBA, was inducted into the Huskies of Honor prior to the game. He's in his sixth season with the Memphis Grizzlies.
"To be a part of that, it's a dream come true," Gay said. "I took pride in what I did when I was here and had a lot of fun. I feel kind of old."
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