Men's Basketball Roundup - Jan. 18


Big Monday got started in a big way, with two battles between top 10 teams on ESPN. Connecticut emerged victorious over Villanova in the early game, while Pittsburgh handed Syracuse its first loss in the nightcap.
The BIG EAST leading scorer, Kemba Walker, hit a floater in the lane with 2.5 seconds left that gave No. 8/8 Connecticut a 61-59 (15-2, 4-2 BIG EAST) win over No. 7/7 Villanova (16-2, 4-1 BIG EAST) in front of a sold out crowd at Gampel Pavilion. Walker led the Huskies with 24 points despite shooting just 6-of-18 from the field. Neither team could find an offensive flow in the first half, as both teams shot just 24 percent from the field through the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats owned a slim 22-21 edge at the break.
The offense picked-up in the second-half, with the Huskies leaning on Walker and the Wildcats turning to Corey Fisher. Fisher led all-scorers with 28 points, including draining a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left that knotted the game at 59. Fisher scored the final 11 points for Villanova, as the team struggled to get others involved in the offense. Walker was helped by freshman Jeremy Lamb, who had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Alex Oriakhi notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards.
A wild game at the Petersen Events Center capped the night in the BIG EAST, with No. 4/4 Pittsburgh (18-1, 6-0 BIG EAST) handing No. 3/3 Syracuse (18-1, 5-1 BIG EAST) its first loss of the season, 74-66 in front of a sold out crowd. In one of the strangest starts to a game, the Panthers jumped all over the Orange with a 19-0 run, putting SU in an early hold. But Syracuse did not fold, responding with a 17-0 run of its own to cut the deficit to two points. Another 7-0 run from the Panthers followed by a 10-5 surge by the Orange made it just a four point game at the half.
Syracuse would pull the game even at 41 with 13:46 remaining following a three from James Southerland. But Pitt would respond with nine of the next 12 points, including five from Brad Wanamaker to take the lead for good. Nasir Robinson led the Panthers with 21 points. Rick Jackson notched his third-straight double-double for SU with 10 points and 11 rebounds while freshman C.J. Fair led the team with 16 points. Pitt is off to a 6-0 start in BIG EAST play for the first time in school history.
Two games dot the BIG EAST schedule on Tuesday night, beginning with Seton Hall hosting No. 23/23 Georgetown at 7 p.m. Eastern on Marquette then welcomes DePaul at 9 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU.