Tuesday, the Big East kicked off its 30th season in the Big East Tournament. Here are 10 incredible moments from the last 30 years of Big East championship play that still resonate today. Click on the links to watch the plays.
Prior to the Big East tournament nobody considered UConn a national championship contender. However, during the Big East Tournament, combo guard Kemba Walker strapped a saddle on and put the team on his back. His moment of glory came in a tie game in the Big East quarterfinals.
As the clock ticked down, Pitt’s Gary McGhee found himself in unfamiliar territory guarding Kemba Walker on the perimeter. Walker took advantage by setting McGhee up with an ankle-breaking crossover and step back move that sent McGee tumbling backwards and made the game-winning jumper. Walker’s game-winner clinched Connecticut's fourth win in four days. The next night, they won the Big East championship. The Huskies would win six more games en route to the programs third national championship.
After six overtimes, and four trips to Starbucks, most of the East Coast had fallen asleep by the time Syracuse emerged victorious over UConn, 127-117 on Mar. 11, err..12, 2009. Syracuse's Johnny Flynn played 67 minutes, Paul Harris recorded 26 points and 22 rebounds and 93 total free throws were shot. Kemba Walker’s put back off of an offensive rebound tied the game at 71 at the end of regulation but none of this would have ever occurred if Eric Devendorf’s buzzer-beating three at the end of regulation had also beaten the clock.
Entering the 2006 Big East Tournament, Syracuse sat on the NCAA Tournament bubble. A loss to Cincinnati in the first round would have shattered their tournament dreams. Trailing by two to the Bearcats with 6.2 seconds remaining, McNamara sprinted through the defense, split two defenders at the top of the three and then launched a running, one-legged three pointer at the buzzer.
It wasn't even McNamara's final clutch moment. McNamara also dished an assist to freshman Eric Devendorf against Georgetown and hit a game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation against No.1 Uconn. However, McNamara's three against Cincy was the indelible image of the 2006 Tournament.
Villanova’s Reggie Redding drove into the lane, caught the defense staring and delivered a bounce pass to Dwayne Anderson under the basket. Anderson quickly layed it in as time expired to give Villanova the win. Marquette always seems to find themselves in these situations.
With 16.2 seconds remaining in the first round of the 2004 Big East semifinals, Villanova trialed favorite Seton Hall 59-60. Guard Randy Foye drove into the paint, stopped, appeared to push off with his hand and swished a fade away jumper to put the Wildcats up one with 3.6 seconds remaining. The Pirate’s desperation three pointer missed badly and the Wildcats escaped with a 60-61 victory.
Down by two, with 4.7 seconds remaining. Rutgers attempted an unsuccessful full-court pass that was tipped by a St. Johns’ Justin Brownlee and intercepted. However, Brownlee stepped out of bounds and traveled with 1.7 seconds. However, the officials held their whistles and St. John's escaped with a controversial win on its home court.
Whether the officiating crew had dinner reservations after regulation of 2011’s Rutgers and St. John’s matchup is something we may never know, but I hope they made their dinner reservation afterwards.
After the St. Johns forward formerly known as Ron Artest tied the Big East semis at 67 with a clutch three from the top of the key, Syracuse’s Ryan Blackwell responded with heroics of his own seconds later. Despite slipping to the ground Syracuse‘s point guard was found a way to deliver a pass to Ryan Blackwell. Blackwell took a quick dribble right, squared up, rose and drained the buzzer-beating mid-range jumper.
West Virginia’s De’Sean Butler nailed a buzzer beating shot to win the 2010 Big East championship. It was his second buzzer beater of the tournament. Butler’s first game-winner came in the earlier rounds against Marquette when he pivoted and drained a three-pointer from the wing with a defender draped across his body.
For nearly 40 minutes, Georgetown’s Allen Iverson and UConn’s Ray Allen went went shot for shot for 40 minutes until Ray Allen sank an off balance jumper in the final seconds to lift UConn to lift Uconn to its second Big East championship.
Leo Rautins Tip-In To Win the 1981 Big East Championship.
In the third overtime of the Big East Championship Game, Syracuse sophomore Leo Rautins tipped in the game-winning shot. Despite, Syracuse's Big East title, there was no automatic bid at the time and Syracuse was banished to the NIT. They finished second that season.