Here's a recap of the games played by Big East Conference teams for the week ended Sunday, February 5th:



In a battle of three point shots, #4 Villanova outlasted Louisville 79-73.  The Wildcats (16-2, 7-1) connected on 14 treys while the Cardinals (14-7, 2-6) made 12.  A 13-0 2nd half run put Villanova ahead 63-48 before Louisville rallied to within one at 70-69 with 3:40 to play.  Two free throws and a lay-up by senior guard Allan Ray sealed the win.  Ray led Villanova with a game-high 26 points and added 8 rebounds.  Junior guard Mike Nardi contributed 20 points and senior guard Randy Foye added 19.  The loss was the 5th in the last six games for the Cardinals, who were paced by senior PG Taquan Dean's 23 points and 7 assists.  Sophomore center David Padgett added 15 points and sophomore PF Juan Palacios had 12.




In an old-fashioned Big East battle in Storrs, #1 Connecticut (19-1, 7-1) hung on to defeat #9 Pittsburgh 80-76.  The Huskies were in control most of the first half, which ended with the score 43-34.  However, the Panthers roared back and closed to within one at 72-71 on a basket by sophomore SF Keith Benjamin with 1:45 left.  Pitt (17-2, 6-2) had a chance to take the lead following a defensive stop, but a turnover by sophomore PG Ronald Ramon led to a three point play by sophomore SF Rudy Gay with 51 seconds remaining.  The Panthers refused to quit and closed to within two at 76-74 on a 3 pointer by freshman PG Levance Fields.  However, junior PG Marcus Williams went 4-4 from the free throw line to ice the victory.  Gay was 9-16 from the field and finished with 22 points.  Junior PF Josh Boone added 16 points and 7 rebounds while Williams had 11 points and 11 assists.   Junior center Aaron Gray had a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds for Pittsburgh.  The only other Panthers in double figures were senior SG Carl Krauser and freshman SF Sam Young with 10 each. 


#17 Georgetown used an 18-0 first half run to drub DePaul 64-44.  The Hoyas (15-4, 6-2) owned the glass all night, with a 38-25 rebounding edge.  Sophomore center Roy Hibbert led Georgetown with 17 points and 8 rebounds.  Sophomore PF Jeff Green added 15 points and 7 boards, while senior SF Brandon Bowman contributed 10 points and 7 rebounds.  The Blue Demons (8-11, 1-7) suffered their sixth straight defeat.  Their only player in double figures was sophomore PG Draelon Burns with 12 points.  Their leading scorer, junior SG Sammy Mejia, played with an ankle injury suffered in their previous game.  He came off the bench to score just 5 points in 24 minutes.


Cincinnati came from behind to defeat South Florida 73-60.  The Bearcats (15-7, 4-4) trailed 32-28 at intermission.  Senior SG Jihad Muhammad finally put them ahead to stay at 51-48 with a 3 pointer with 11:09 to play.  That started a 14-3 run that put the game away.  Junior forward Cedric McGowan led Cincinnati with a career-high 18 points and 14 rebounds.  Muhammad added 18 points and senior PF Eric Hicks chipped in with 13 points and 11 boards.  For the Bulls (6-14, 0-7) who dropped their 9th straight game, all five starters were in double figures.  Senior center Solomon Jones led the way with 14 points and 8 rebounds. 




In the first barn-burner of the evening, #11 West Virginia barely hung on to defeat luckless Notre Dame 71-70.  The Mountaineers' victory snapped an 11 game losing streak to the Irish.  WVU took an early 15 point lead, before the Irish closed to within four (39-35) at intermission on a buzzer-beating three pointer by senior PG Chris Quinn.  The game see-sawed for much on the 2nd half until Mountaineer's senior center Kevin Pittsnogle tallied 7 straight points giving them a 68-65 lead.  Senior SG Joe Herber added a basket and free throw to extend WVU's lead to71-65 before Notre Dame scored five points in the final minute.  With a chance to win the game, Quinn missed a runner at the buzzer.  Pittsnogle led the Mountaineers with 22 points.  Senior SF Mike Gansey added 13 and Herber 10.  For the Irish, Quinn had a game-high 24 and junior SG Colin Falls added 18.  In a bit of an oddity for a Big East game, there were only a total of 19 fouls and the teams combined to shoot just seven free throws (2-2 for Notre Dame and 5-5 for WVU).


Junior PF Terrence Roberts drained a three pointer from the top of the key to give Syracuse (16-6, 4-4) an 86-84 overtime win over Rutgers.  It was only the 2nd three point shot Roberts has made all season, and it snapped their four game losing streak.  The Scarlet Knights (13-8, 3-5) sent the game to overtime at 74 all on a three pointer at the buzzer by junior SF Marquis Webb.  Roberts' game-winner followed a three pointer by freshman guard Anthony Farmer with 7.8 seconds left that briefly gave Rutgers a one point advantage.  Junior SF Demetris Nichols led the Orange with 24 points and 9 rebounds.  Freshman guard Eric Devendorf added 21 points and Roberts finished with 16.  For the Scarlet Knights, junior SG Quincy Douby poured in 41 points including nine from long distance.  Freshman PF J.R. Inman chipped in with 14 points.


Seton Hall won their 4th straight game and 3rd in a row on the road by edging Providence 77-74.  The Pirates (13-6, 4-3) trailed 37-32 at the half.  The final three minutes saw six lead changes before a lay-up by senior PG Donald Copeland put Seton Hall ahead to stay.  Two free throws by junior center Grant Billmeier with 7.4 seconds remaining put the Pirates ahead by three and freshman PG Sharaud Curry then missed a tying three point attempt at the buzzer.  Senior center Kelly Whitney led Seton Hall with 20 points and 9 rebounds.  Junior SG Jamar Nutter added 15 points.  For the Friars (9-10, 2-6) junior PF Herbert Hill led the way with 14 points and 7 rebounds.


Marquette (16-6, 6-3) broke open a close game with a 13-0 second half run to defeat St. John's 81-61.  The Red Storm (10-9, 3-5) led 36-35 before the Golden Eagles surged ahead with four consecutive 3 pointers, three coming from senior forward Steve Novak.  Novak had a huge game with 29 points and 8 rebounds.  Freshman PG Dominic James added 16 points and freshman SG Jerel McNeal contributed 11.  For St. John's, freshman SF Anthony Mason Jr. had 14 points along with 11 rebounds and junior center Lamont Hamilton tallied 12.




No games




Someone had to break a losing streak in this game and it was DePaul as the Blue Demons (9-11, 2-7) ended a 6 game skid by overcoming South Florida 80-66.  Junior SG Sammy Mejia returned to form, leading the way for DePaul with 21 points.  Sophomore SF Karron Clarke added 16 points and freshman PF Wilson Chandler contributed 15 points and 6 rebounds.  For the Bulls (6-15, 0-8) who dropped their 10th straight, senior SF Melvin Buckley tallied a game-high 22 points.  Senior SG James Holmes added 19, and senior center Solomon Jones had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.




#1 Connecticut traveled to Bloomington and came away with an impressive 88-80 win over Indiana, their 9th straight.  The Huskies (20-1, 7-1) led 41-36 at intermission, and expanded their advantage to 20 points (63-43).  The Hoosiers (13-6) used a 16-4 run to close to within seven at 73-66 with 7:48 to play, but Connecticut put the game away with a 12-2 run.  The Huskies had six players in double figures, led by sophomore SF Rudy Gay with 19 points and 12 rebounds.  Junior PF Josh Boone and senior center Hilton Armstrong each tallied 16.  Junior PG Marcus Williams chipped in with 12 points and 11 assists.  For Indiana, senior guard Marshall Strickland led the way with 16 points.


#4 Villanova needed a late rally to get past Marquette 72-67.  The Golden Eagles (16-7, 6-4) held a 33-28 lead at halftime, and looked to be in control with a 7 point lead with just 3:30 remaining.  However, the Wildcats (17-2, 8-1) turned up the defensive pressure and forced two consecutive turnovers resulting in a lay-up and 3 pointer by senior SG Allan Ray to finally give Villanova the lead at 64-63.  The Wildcats expanded their lead to 68-63 before Marquette responded with baskets by their freshman backcourt of PG Dominic James and SG Jerel McNeal to close the margin to one with 30 seconds remaining.  Turnovers and free throw shooting were the difference in the game.  The Golden Eagles had 25 turnovers to 14 for the Wildcats.  Villanova had 27 free throw attempts, making 23.  Marquette went to the line just 7 times, connecting on 5.  Ray tallied a game-high 28 points for Villanova.  The only other Wildcat in double figures was senior guard Randy Foye with 24.  Senior forward Steve Novak topped the scoring list for Marquette with 18 points.  James added 15 and McNeal 14 along with 8 rebounds.


#11 West Virginia became the first Big East school to begin conference play with 8 consecutive wins since the 1993-94 Connecticut Huskies by defeating Cincinnati 66-57.  The Mountaineers (17-4, 8-0) trailed 33-30 at the half, but came out smoking after intermission.  They connected on seven 3 pointers from their first ten shots after going just 4-13 from long distance in the first half.  The three point barrage keyed a 24-12 run that gave WVU a 54-45 lead and the Bearcats (15-8, 4-5) never seriously threatened the rest of the way.  The Mountaineers managed to force 18 turnovers while committing just five fouls!  Senior SF Mike Gansey led the way for WVU with 14 points and 8 rebounds.  Senior center Kevin Pittsnogle added 12 points, all on 3 pointers.  Senior PF Eric Hicks had a double-double for the Bearcats with 22 points and 10 rebounds.  Senior SG Jihad Muhammad added 15 points.


Louisville edged snake-bit Notre Dame 89-86 in overtime.  The Cardinals led 44-38 at the half, but the Irish (10-10, 1-8) rallied and took an 80-77 lead on two free throws by senior PG Chris Quinn with 12 seconds left.  For some reason, Notre Dame coach Mike Bray decided not to foul and his strategy backfired when senior PG Taquan Dean drained a three pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.  Dean's shot seemed to deflate the Irish, as Louisville quickly took the lead and maintained it throughout the extra session.  Sophomore center David Padgett topped Louisville with 24 points and 8 rebounds.  Dean added 20 points while junior SG Brandon Jenkins and freshman guard Andre McGee each had 14.  The loss was the 5th in a row for Notre Dame, who've lost their eight Big East games by a total of just 26 points.  Quinn had a game-high 31 points and junior SF Reggie Carter added 24.


Providence (10-10, 3-6) staged a late rally to get past St. John's 81-73.  The Friars trailed by five at intermission and the Red Storm (10-10, 3-6) extended their lead to nine at 55-46.  Providence then closed out the game with a 35-18 run.  St. John's pulled within one at 74-73 on a basket by freshman SF Anthony Mason Jr. but the Friars scored the final seven points to ice the win.  Freshman PG Sharaud Curry led Providence with a game-high 19 points.  Junior PF Herbert Hill added 17 points and senior PG Donnie McGrath chipped in with 13.  For the Red Storm, Junior PG Daryll Hill tallied 16 points and junior center Lamont Hamilton added 13 points and 8 boards.




#17 Georgetown rebounded from a 15 point first half deficit to top #9 Pittsburgh 61-58.  With the score tied at 18, the Panthers went on a 15-0 run to take a 33-18 lead before the Hoyas (16-4, 7-2) closed the gap to 35-28 at intermission.  Junior center Aaron Gray did most of the damage for Pitt (17-3, 6-3) in the first half with 15 points.  Georgetown coach John Thompson switched to a zone in the 2nd half and effectively doubled up on Gray.  The strategy worked to perfection as Gray was blanked the rest of the way and also turned the ball over four times.  The Hoyas finally tied the game at 45 and then pulled ahead 48-47 on a three pointer by senior SF Brandon Bowman with 9:38 left.  Georgetown then opened a ten point lead over the ice-cold Panthers before senior SG Carl Krauser and sophomore PG Ronald Ramon each connected on 3 point shots to close the gap to three at 59-56.  A lay-up by freshman PG Levance Fields with 4 seconds left closed the gap to 59-58.  Pitt immediately fouled senior SG Darrel Owens, who drained both free throws.  The two points by Owens were the only scoring from Georgetown's bench all game.  The Panthers managed to set up Ramon for a three pointer at the buzzer, which was just off line.  Hoyas' sophomore PF Jeff Green tied his career-high with 24 points.  Bowman added 15.  For the Panthers, Gray finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.  Krauser and Ramon each tallied 11.


Surprising Seton Hall won their 5th straight, topping Rutgers 76-67.  The Pirates (14-6, 5-3) were in control most of the game, but the Scarlet Knights (13-9, 3-6) rallied to within one point at 66-65 on a three pointer by junior SG Quincy Douby with 3 minutes to go.  Seton Hall replied with two jumpers by senior center Kelly Whitney and two free throws by senior PG Donald Copeland to lock up the victory.  Junior SG Jamar Nutter led the way for the Pirates with 22 points.  Whitney added 20 points and 8 rebounds.  For Rutgers, Douby led all scorers with 28 points and junior SF Marquis Webb tallied 11.




The battle to avoid missing out on the Big East Tournament should be a good one.  Both South Florida (0-8) and Notre Dame (1-8) appear unlikely to be making the trip to New York.  After that, there is quite a logjam.  DePaul is 2-7, and four teams (Louisville, Rutgers, Providence, and St. John's) all are 3-6.  Rutgers could be in trouble if the right calf injury suffered by talented freshman PF J.R. Inman in yesterday's game against Seton Hall results in any significant missed time.


I continue to give Seton Hall's Louis Orr and Cincinnati's Andy Kennedy high marks for their work despite a nearly total lack of job security beyond this season.  Seton Hall is riding a five game wining streak, while Cincinnati has remained more than competitive despite a depleted roster.  With their highly tenuous job security, neither coach has been able to accomplish much in the way of recruiting for next season.


For the "Game of the Week," I'm giving you a "doubleheader."  West Virginia puts their undefeated conference record on the line with road games against arch-rival Pittsburgh on Thursday and red-hot Georgetown on Sunday.




1.        Connecticut – Huskies were impressive defeating Pittsburgh and then winning at Indiana


2.        West Virginia – Two tough road games this week will test the Mountaineers' mettle


3.        Villanova – Struggled in home wins against Louisville and Marquette.  Are they wearing down?


4.        Georgetown – Impressive come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh jumps them ahead of the Panthers


5.        Pittsburgh – Lost two tough road games to #1 UConn and Georgetown.  Need to bounce back to beat WVU or could be in a free-fall.


6.        Marquette – Looked very impressive for the first 57 minutes against Villanova.  Will be a tough foe the rest of the way.






Louisville @ Cincinnati




Providence @ DePaul, St. Joseph's @ Villanova




Syracuse @ Connecticut, Rutgers @ Notre Dame, Seton Hall @ South Florida




St. John's @ Georgetown, West Virginia @ Pittsburgh






No Games




Connecticut @ Seton Hall, Villanova @ DePaul, South Florida @ Louisville




Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh, West Virginia @ Georgetown, Marquette @ Rutgers, Syracuse @ St. John's






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