SYRACUSE, N.Y., March 7 (UPI) -- Gerry McNamara scored 24 points Sunday as Syracuse posted a 67-56 victory over No. 8 Connecticut and earned a first-round bye in the Big East tournament.
Syracuse (21-6, 11-5 Big East) won its fifth straight game. No team has won the Big East tournament without the first-round bye.
Connecticut moved to within 46-44 on a pair of free throws by Denham Brown midway through the second half. But freshman Demetris Nichols sank a three-pointer and Craig Forth added a jumper to give the Orangemen a seven-point lead.
UConn (24-6, 12-4) got no closer than five points the rest of the way.
Freshman Charlie Villanueva scored 13 points for the Huskies, who had a five-game winning streak snapped.