Though Jim Calhoun was in attendance, as he always is, the Calhoun I’m speaking of is Omar Calhoun, a freshman from Brooklyn. He’s the third-leading scorer for the Huskies, but led them tonight in an upset win over the Orange, 66-58.
Syracuse stuck with their 2-3 zone throughout the game despite UConn proving time and time again they can—and will—bomb away from three-point range. The Huskies wound up sinking eight of their 17 threes. The key for UConn was using their lightning quick guards (Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright) to penetrate the zone and kick it out for open shots from the perimeter—shots they made. The Huskies shot 48 percent from the floor.
Calhoun might have had the biggest shot all night, a three-pointer that swung the momentum towards the home team. With the score tied at 42 just over midway through the second half, Calhoun got a good look at a three from the corner—his favorite spot on the floor—and buried it. Three minutes later, with UConn leading by five, he buried another three to give UConn some breathing room from the corner. After a Brandon Triche jumper brought it to six, Calhoun buried another triple from the corner to give UConn its largest lead of the night up to that point.
Syracuse put the freshman on the line late in the game with the Huskies leading by seven and he calmly buried them both. Calhoun finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds.
It’s a signature win for head coach Kevin Ollie, one that he will let sink in. He was part of this rivalry as a player, an assistant coach and now as a head coach. What he’s done for this program this season, a year in which they’re playing for pride, is astonishing. But for this night at least, Calhoun stole the show. Omar Calhoun. “But it’s all about UConn,” Ollie said in his on-court interview immediately following the game. What an end to a historic rivalry.
And just like that, the Big East is wide open. Could UConn make a final push to claim the regular season title? If they can play with the same intensity and emotion they played with tonight, it could be something magical. Something this rivalry was always considered. And that’s how the story ends, with another thrilling game.
Kevin Ollie’s story is just beginning.