As the calendar flips to 2011, BIG EAST action concluded its opening week with four league games on New Year's Day. Georgetown, Marquette, St. John's and Syracuse each won conference games on Saturday. Three teams won at home while St. John's remains the only BIG EAST team to win a game on the road, improving to 2-0
No. 5/5 Syracuse (15-0, 2-0 BIG EAST) remained perfect with a 70-58 victory over No. 15/15 Notre Dame (12-2, 1-1 BIG EAST) at the Carrier Dome. The game was close through the first half and the beginning of the second, as Syracuse owned a slim 34-33 advantage at the halftime break. The score was then tied at 42 at the 15:43 mark after a dunk by Orange center Rick Jackson. The play sparked a 9-0 run by SU that gave the home team a seven-point lead that they would not relinquish. Jackson finished with 12 points, six blocks, five rebounds and three assists. Forward Kris Joseph had 18 points and eight rebounds in the game, while Scoop Jardine had 15 points and nine assists.
It was the defense that made the difference in the second half for Syracuse, who forced the Irish into 11 turnovers over the final 20 minutes. Tim Abromaitis led Notre Dame with 15 points, while Ben Hansbrough added 12 points and Scott Martin had 10 points.
Two games on Saturday were decided by five points or less, beginning with an early game that saw Marquette (10-4, 1-0 BIG EAST) edge West Virginia (8-4, 0-2 BIG EAST) 79-74. The Golden Eagles trailed by one with under two minutes to play, but Chris Otule's put-back slam off a missed three point attempt put the home team up by one with 1:23 remaining. Marquette held on from there with key defensive stops and clutch free-throw shooting to grab a win in the team's BIG EAST opener. Jae Crowder was unstoppable for the Golden Eagles, scoring a season-high 29 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Darius Johnson-Odom contributed 21 points for MU. Darryl Bryant led the WVU charge, dropping 25 points while Kevin Jones added 17.
St. John's (9-3, 2-0 BIG EAST) and Providence (11-4, 0-2 BIG EAST) played another close game, with the Red Storm topping the Friars in the final minute, 67-65. St. John's improved to 2-0 on the road in BIG EAST games and is the only team to record a road win in conference play so far this season. With the score tied at 62 in the closing minute, Dwight Hardy found a wide-open Paris Horne in the corner who knocked-down a clutch three that gave STJ a 65-62 advantage with 28 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Providence's Marshon Brooks was whistled for an offensive foul driving to the hoop and a pair of St. John's free throws clinched it for the Red Storm. Dwight Hardy scored 21 points to lead St. John's. For the Friars, Brooks ended with 20, making it nine-straight games the senior has scored more than 20 points.
No. 9/9 Georgetown (12-2, 1-1 BIG EAST) defeated DePaul 86-75. Austin Freeman and Jason Clark each scored 21 points to lead the Hoyas, who never trailed in the game. DePaul trailed by 11 in the second half but was able to cut that lead to one with 14 minutes remaining. The Blue Demons got a career-high 29 points from Cleveland Melvin while Tony Freeland added 24. GU put the contest away with a pair of 8-0 runs late in the second half, giving the squad its 10th-straight win over DePaul. Chris Wright scored all 17 of his points in the second half to help Georgetown to its first conference win of the season.
Only one game is on the BIG EAST schedule on Sunday as No. 8/8 Villanova hosts Rutgers at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.