In the lone conference game on Thursday, No. 7/7 Villanova (13-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) defeated USF 83-71 to win its eighth-straight game. The Wildcats used an impressive long-range shooting display to take down the Bulls, going 9-of-12 from 3-point range. The 75 percent shooting from downtown was the best 3-point shooting performance for Villanova in a BIG EAST game in program history. Corey Stokes hit all five of his shots from behind the arc while Dominic Cheek hit all four of his. Stokes finished with a game-high 22 points, with 19 coming in the second half. USF closed within three points at 54-51 after a four-point play by Shaun Noriega. But Stokes and Cheek combined to hit three-straight 3s and put the game on ice. Augustus Gilchrist finished with a double-double for the Bulls, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
No. 24/25 Cincinnati (15-0, 2-0 BIG EAST) remained one of the seven undefeated teams in the country after cruising to a 66-46 win over Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout. The 15-0 start matches that of the 1998-1999 Bearcats for the second-best start in program history. Yancy Gates played a monster game for Cincinnati, scoring 22 points and pulling down 14 rebounds to help UC gain the win in the always important rivalry game. Xavier jumped out to the quick lead, leading 10-4 to start the game. But Gates helped the Bearcats respond, hitting three shots during a 16-4 run that put UC ahead to stay. The win broke a four-game losing streak in the series for Cincinnati.
No games are scheduled on Friday but it is a very busy Saturday in the BIG EAST with 11 conference teams in action. The BIG EAST Network Game of the Week series returns for a 14th season with a pair of nationally syndicated games Saturday. The first has Syracuse hitting the road to face Seton Hall at noon as the Orange look to remain unbeaten in 2010-11. The second game of the BIG EAST Network doubleheader has a battle of 2-0 teams in the conference as Marquette visits Pittsburgh.
Other matchups include St. John's visiting Notre Dame at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU, West Virginia visiting Georgetown at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN2 and Connecticut playing a nonconference game at Texas at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Providence and Rutgers round out Saturday's schedule with an 8 p.m. ET start.