Big East Roundup: Part One

Here's part one of two of where Big East teams stands a few contests away from the beginning of conference action:

***PITTSBURGH: The Panthers are 9-0 on the season and ranked No. 9 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 11 in the AP. Pittsburgh won last weekend 75-74 on the road at Washington. It had appeared the Huskies had won on a last second shot but on review the basket was waved off. The Panthers are led by 6-6 junior forward Sam Young, who is averaging 18 PPG and almost eight rebounds a contest. DeJuan Blair, a 6-7 freshman, adds 10 PPG and nine rebounds a contest. Pittsburgh has four games left before Big East play starts, including games at home versus Oklahoma State and No. 7 Duke.

***GEORGETOWN: The second of the remaining unbeatens in the Big East are the Hoyas. Georgetown, ranked No. 4, has beaten all seven opponents by at least nine points, including a 70-60 road win at Alabama. The big man in the middle, Roy Hibbert, draws most of the headlines. The 7-2 senior averages 13 PPG and seven rebounds a contest. DaJuan Summers, a 6-8 sophomore, is second in scoring at 10 PPG. It's a balanced attack for the Hoyas, who have seven players averaging five PPG or more. The big non-conference contest remaining is on December 22nd at No. 2 Memphis.

***VILLANOVA: The Wildcats have raced out to a 7-1 start and a No. 18 ranking. Villanova's only loss was a one-point defeat to North Carolina State, where a late foul called by the referees cost the Wildcats the game. Last Sunday, Villanova broke the 100-point barrier in a 101-93 victory over Temple. Scottie Reynolds scored 27 and dished out nine assists in the win. The sophomore guard is one of the nation's best and is averaging 16 PPG, four assists and three rebounds a contest. Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham combine for 23 points and 12 rebounds a game down in the paint area. The Wildcats play three cupcakes in Hartford, Columbia and LaSalle before Big East play starts.

***WEST VIRGINIA: Under new head coach Bob Huggins, the Mountaineers are 7-1 with their only loss coming to No. 11 Tennessee. Since the loss, West Virginia has won five straight by at least 14 points. Alex Ruoff, a 6-6 junior, leads the team in scoring at 16.5 PPG. Joe Alexander, a 6-8 junior, is second at 15 PPG and pulls down seven rebounds a contest. As a team, the Mountaineers are shooting 51 percent from the field, including 40 percent from three-point range. West Virginia has four non-conference games left, including a December 29th battle versus Oklahoma in Morgantown.

***MARQUETTE: The Golden Eagles are ranked 13th in the Coaches Poll and 6-1 on the year. Marquette's only loss was to Duke in the championship game of the Maui Invitational. Last weekend, the Golden Eagles did what almost all teams fail to do: beat Wisconsin in Madison, ending the Badgers 28-game home court winning streak. Marquette is led by the junior duo of Dominic James and Jerel McNeal. Both players average 15 PPG and most of the sets called by head coach Tom Creen run through these two players. Lazar Haywood, a 6-6 sophomore, adds 12 PPG. The Golden Eagles have four winnable non-conference games left, all at home, before Big East play starts on January 3rd against Providence in Milwaukee.

***ST. JOHN'S: The Red Storm have played the fewest games of the all the Big East teams but sit at 4-1 with the only loss coming at Miami 66-47. St. John's will have played eight contests before conference action starts on January 2nd at Syracuse. The Red Storm have four players averaging in double figures, led by Justin Burrell. The 6-8 freshman scores 14 PPG and pulls down nine rebounds a contest. Sophomore guard Larry Wright adds 13 PPG while 6-6 freshman D.J. Kennedy chips in 12 PPG and eight rebounds a contest.

***NOTRE DAME: The Irish are 7-2 on the season after a 108-62 win over Northern Illinois last weekend. Notre Dame has now won 25 in a row at home, which is a new school record. After back-to-back losses to Baylor and Georgia Tech, the Irish have rolled off five straight wins. Notre Dame has three home non-conference games left before Big East play starts January 3rd at home against West Virginia. The Irish have a inside-outside duo in junior Kyle McAlarney and sophomore Luke Harangody. McAlarney has been on fire as of late after a slow start and is second on the team in scoring at 14.9 PPG. Harangody is a physical presence down low and is having his way in the paint area. The 6-8 forward leads the team in scoring at 17 PPG and rebounding with nine a contest. Senior captain Rob Kurz adds 13 PPG.

***SETON HALL: The Pirates fell to 7-2 after last weekend's three-point loss at Penn State. Seton Hall's other loss came at St. Mary's. The Pirates' best win was a 14-point road win at Virginia. Seton Hall has a December 27th home date against North Carolina State left on its non-conference schedule. The Pirates are led by Brian Laing. The 6-5 senior averages 20 PPG and is shooting 50 percent from the field to go along with eight rebounds a contest. Eugene Harvey, 6-0 sophomore, is second in scoring at 17.2 PPG while 6-9 sophomore John Garcia adds eight PPG and almost ten rebounds a contest. Seton Hall is averaging 83 points a game this season.


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