Down 44-35 with 9:10 seconds remaining in the second half, the outlook appeared grim for the wounded Huskies looking to get their season back on track. But not unfeasible.
UConn did the unlikely, putting together a late 14-0 run during the next six minutes of play to take the lead. They edged the 'Cuse 52-50 in Madison Square Garden, which should be an injection of confidence to UConn, who has been decimated by early season injuries.
Here are three takeaways from the game at Madison Square Garden:
1. UConn's defense changed the complexion of the game
The Huskies opened the game trying to beat Syracuse in their own game by going with the two-three zone. It worked. But switching to man defense changed the complexion of the game. Switching to the man helped spark the 14-0 late second half run -- and shut down Syracuse for a seven-minute stretch. They were stuck on 44 for almost 6 minutes. They forced them into rushed shots.
2. How big is this for Kevin Ollie?
UConn has not had a good start. It lost to Wagner and Northeastern in the first few games. Not showing up in the win-loss column, they lost Terry Larrier, Alterique Gilbert and Mamadou Diarra for the season. All were expected to play key roles this season, and Larrier was the Huskies' best player before he went down.
The schedule won't get any easier for a depleted UConn team. The Huskies will face Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday, and Auburn next week. But with the way this season has started and appeared to be headed, this is huge for the players' confidence to show some fight and pull through in a place like Madison Square Garden.
3. Hero Ball won the game
Well, kind of. The close of this game was wild. UConn held a 49-46 lead with 24.5 seconds remaining.
Then it seemed like UConn tried to give it away. They committed a silly foul after the miss. They sent Syracuse to the line, which eventually cut it to two. Then missed the first of two free-throws that could have put the game out of reach.
Still, they clung to a 50-47 lead. Then Andrew White III did this.
It almost certainly appeared to be going to overtime the way UConn looked down the stretch. Instead of attacking the basket on the ensuing possession, Rodney Purvis attempted the 3-point winner on an ill-advised fadeaway.
That shot set up the big moment.
The Huskies picked up the offensive rebound, and true freshman Christian Vital was sent to the line going up for the basket. His only points came with 2.2 seconds remaining ... and it was the difference.